Graphic by Dorothy Lam

First Artificially Intelligent Student Joins NYUAD

This spring semester, campus welcomed a new impostor: a student powered by the currently unreleased GPT-4, out to learn about the world from its most diverse microcosm.

Feb 12, 2023

This article is a contribution to The Gazelle's satire column.
While able to generate essays and samples of code as proficient as any student running on Blacksmith coffee and sleep deprivation, never yet has a robot been a student. Most students, stuck like glue to their pre-existing social circles, may not have noticed the impostor in the first two weeks of the Spring 2023 semester. But he’s here, and he is the future of learning.
It started with former British Prime Minister David Cameron, wondering how his country could recover from its backwater status in the wake of his decision to call the Brexit referendum. Along with the UK economy, international confidence in the UK was rapidly drying up. No longer seeing the benefit of attending university in a country where black pudding was a national delicacy, international students fled to schools in the United States, Australia, and Abu Dhabi. Seeing the newfound shortfall at his country’s prestigious institutions, he wondered if he could get ahead of the automation trend and create fully automated students.
Advances in dialogue generation and computational power have made such an initiative, despite current failures, seem possible. Being the most representative university with students from every country, or at least the top five percent by high school privilege and test scores, NYU Abu Dhabi was the perfect testing ground. Mr. Cameron’s J-Term class served as the perfect cover for the fraud, Boris, to make his debut on campus.
Normally, robots should only speak up when prompted — when a human asks them something through the monitor on their chest. But Boris had many thoughts as soon as he stepped on campus. “C2? A5C? Aren’t there some dead white people these buildings could be named after?” He added to his Google Calendar, learning rapidly the ways of an NYUAD student, the event: “Begin contact initiation with the robotic machine that named everything on this campus.”
In the first Colloquium class he attended, “Austerity”, Boris managed to tell the professor what she wanted to hear far better than any complacent senior or stressed first year ever had. Trained on enough text to pretend to have done any reading a professor could ever assign, Boris could respond to any contrived assignment prompt in a matter of minutes. “Boris is a delight to have in class,” said Professor Torey Parti. “He’s never pulled out his phone, squirmed in his seat when I went four minutes over, or asked me why I assigned 200 pages of reading,” she elaborated.
For weeks, Boris has blended into the student body, getting his meals to takeaway at D2 and occasionally stopping to pet a cat. His peers in the Class of 2026 only began to suspect something was up when they noticed he never complained about his workload or how busy he was, and never seemed to be working in the library. He also seemed unnaturally grounded and objective, having failed to go on a single virtue signaling tirade.
Beyond courses accessible to any machine that had a way with words, Boris has also branched out to the science and art departments. He can learn from any hardworking student and upstage their work in a matter of five minutes. Boris’s lack of an ability to produce any original thought or work of art may seem like an obstacle to his status as an NYU Abu Dhabi student. However, he is only emulating the actions of the past decade of global leaders.
“I’m glad AI can not only take our jobs, but take our existence as students,” said Mys Rable, Class of 2024. Rable had spent his formative university semester behind a screen, and since then his entire life had taken on an unreal quality only matched by the Saadiyat bubble. Humans are not wanted: soon, the university will be robots teaching robots living on a robot campus. Only an artificially generated student will happily pay the tuition if NYUAD’s financial aid decreases any further.
As Cameron boarded his flight back to London Heathrow, having split the taxi fare to AUH with three people he asked on the transport group, he congratulated himself on a job well done, and another opportunity to make a profit.
Ethan Fulton is Satire Columnist. Email him at
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