Opinion: Is AI the Death of Critical Thinking?

by Dr. Reysa Alenzuela

Recently, the proliferation of AI powered platforms has threatened Google. It goes with the growing concern on learning. AI can write essays or even an entire report. It reminds me of the “Paradox of the Wise Man and the Foolish Boy” or “The Paradox of the Living and the Dead Bird.”

Once upon a time, there was a wise old sage who was renowned for his wisdom and knowledge. One day, a young boy came to him with a bird in his hand and asked the sage a question: “Is the bird in my hand dead or alive?” The boy had come up with a plan to trick the sage. If the sage answered “dead,” the boy would open his hand and let the bird fly away. If the sage answered “alive,” the boy would crush the bird in his hand and show the sage that he was wrong.

The wise old sage realized what the boy was up to and thought carefully about his response. After a moment, he replied, “It is in your hands, my child.” The sage’s answer was both simple and profound. It acknowledged that the boy had the power to decide the fate of the bird, and that the outcome was entirely in his hands.

The boy was taken aback by the sage’s response. He realized that he could not outsmart the wise old man after all. The sage’s answer taught him an important lesson about responsibility and the power of choice.

The bird is a good metaphor for AI  – the harm or the benefit is our choice and our responsibility. AI is a new phenomena and it cannot be stopped. Just like the use of illegal websites to access information, the more it is forbidden, with more reason that people would access it. I would rather not prohibit the use of AI but would rather share the techniques how to make it legal and useful:

  • I use ChatGPT to stimulate me to think or get an idea when I have a writer’s block. However, I only gather insights and make sure that I re-create the idea or verify how valid my assumption. You might say, it is twice the job. No, it is not. It only reduced the millions of hits into specific searches. But then, you need to use your advance information  retrieval skills e.g. use of phrasal search.
  • Verify the sources of information. Believe me, a lot of information described by CHAT GPT cannot be easily attributed or found anywhere; therefore, you need to think twice before using it unless you have tested the concept yourself.
  • Also, there are occasions when CHATGPT presents a new concept. This is the part where I go back to databases and find supporting evidences. I felt a kind of “AHA” experience when I get this.
  • I also use Quillbot to rephrase my sentences or Grammarly to make me write better.
  • In technology integration, GiGo (Garbage in-Garbage out) is never outdated. If your input is trash (garbage), your output is the same. You still need to have skills in order to use these AI tools for your advantage.
  • Nothing beats the human brain. As a teacher, I can always see the pattern of writing of my students. For teachers who really read the essays and output of their students, a paragraph can already make them detect whether it has been written by a student or not.

Since I presented the useful side of it, I would recommend a way to test. The LibrAIry has created the ROBOT test to consider when using AI technology.

  • How reliable is the information available about the AI technology?
  • If it’s not produced by the party responsible for the AI, what are the author’s credentials? Bias?
  • If it is produced by the party responsible for the AI, how much information are they making available?
    • Is information only partially available due to trade secrets?
    • How biased is the information that they produce?


  • What is the goal or objective of the use of AI?
  • What is the goal of sharing information about it?
    • To inform?
    • To convince?
    • To find financial support?


  • What could create bias in the AI technology?
  • Are there ethical issues associated with this?
  • Are bias or ethical issues acknowledged?
    • By the source of information?
    • By the party responsible for the AI?
    • By its users?


  • Who is the owner or developer of the AI technology?
  • Who is responsible for it?
    • Is it a private company?
    • The government?
    • A think tank or research group?
  • Who has access to it?
  • Who can use it?


  • Which subtype of AI is it?
  • Is the technology theoretical or applied?
  • What kind of information system does it rely on?
  • Does it rely on human intervention? 

The proliferation of new tools is unstoppable. This is a new era of challenges. We set rules to make it work for our benefit. At the end of the day our basic guide is everytime we use new tools, think of the reason behind. We simply ought to remember the basic rule that  in the exercise of our  rights and the performance of our duties, we must practice honesty and and always lean towards good intentions where we do not rob someone of their intellectual property or do scheming acts to reach our goals. Technology is just our mind creation, whether it benefits you and other people is up to you. “It is in your hands, my child.”

Feel free to share your thoughts  or suggest other topics I can write about.

About the Author: Dr. Reysa Alenzuela is currently a professor for the CPU School of Graduate Studies Masters in Library and Information Science Program. She is also a consultant for the Henry Luce III Library; and for Research and Publication under the CPU Office of the President. She is currently based in Prague, Czech Republic, as Head Librarian of the Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences.


Hervieux, S. & Wheatley, A. (2020). The ROBOT test [Evaluation tool]. The LibrAIry. https://thelibrairy.wordpress.com/2020/03/11/the-robot-test

Further Readings:

Bruff, D. (2023, January 5). A bigger, badder clippy: Enhancing student learning with AI writing tools. Agile Learning. Retrieved January 9, 2023, from https://derekbruff.org/?p=3995

Edwards, B. I., & Cheok, A. D. (2018). Why not robot teachers: artificial intelligence for addressing teacher shortage. Applied Artificial Intelligence, 32(4), 345-360.

Hrastinski, S., Olofsson, A. D., Arkenback, C., Ekström, S., Ericsson, E., Fransson, G., … & Utterberg, M. (2019). Critical imaginaries and reflections on artificial intelligence and robots in postdigital K-12 education. Postdigital Science and Education, 1, 427-445.

Koć-Januchta, M. M., Schönborn, K. J., Tibell, L. A., Chaudhri, V. K., & Heller, H. C. (2020). Engaging with biology by asking questions: Investigating students’ interaction and learning with an artificial intelligence-enriched textbook. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 58(6), 1190-1224.

Ouyang, F., & Jiao, P. (2021). Artificial intelligence in education: The three paradigms. Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence, 2, 100020.

Şerban, C., & Todericiu, I. A. (2020). Alexa, What classes do I have today? The use of Artificial Intelligence via Smart Speakers in Education. Procedia Computer Science, 176, 2849-2857.