Sorry seems to be the hardest word

NEWS ITEM: An administrator at Vanderbilt University has apologized after it was revealed that an email to students offering condolences following a mass shooting at Michigan State University was written by an automated text-generation tool.

The Peabody College of Education & Human Development sent an email on Feb. 16 saying that “the recent Michigan shootings are a tragic reminder of the importance of taking care of each other, particularly in the context of creating inclusive environments. As members of the Peabody campus community, we must reflect on the impact of such an event and take steps to ensure that we are doing our best to create a safe and inclusive environment for all.”

A note at the bottom stated the message had been written by ChatGPT, an AI text generator.

Associate Dean Nicole Joseph sent an apology email the following day, saying the decision to use the chat-bot to generate a condolence note showed “poor judgement.”

One student told the student newspaper that “there is a sick and twisted irony to making a computer write your message about community and togetherness because you can’t be bothered to reflect on it yourself … Do more. Do anything. And lead us into a better future with genuine, human empathy, not a robot.”

(The Vanderbilt Hustler, Feb. 17, 2023)

(In Nashville, Tenn., a university administrator opens a browser window and goes to

Query: Students were offended because we used ChatGPT to write a message of condolence following a mass shooting at Michigan State University. Please write an email apologizing for our use of ChatGPT.

Response: Dear [Recipient],

I am writing to you today to apologize for the use of ChatGPT in a message of condolence following the recent mass shooting at Michigan State University. We understand that the use of ChatGPT may have caused offense to some students and for that, we sincerely apologize.

As an AI language model, ChatGPT was programmed to provide assistance and support to individuals. However, we understand that in this particular instance, the use of an AI model may not have been the most appropriate approach.

We acknowledge that the tragedy that occurred at Michigan State University was a deeply emotional and personal event for many students, and our use of ChatGPT in the message of condolence may have felt impersonal and inadequate. We want to assure you that we take this matter seriously and are committed to working with the university community to ensure that appropriate measures are taken in the future.

Once again, we apologize for any offense caused and hope that you will accept our sincere apologies.

[Your Name]

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