Schools declare war on ChatGPT, a new AI tool that students can use to cheat

Ask the new artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT to write an essay about the cause of American Civil War and you can look at turning it into a compelling term paper in seconds.

That’s one reason why New York City school officials this week began blocking the impressive but controversial writing tool that generates paragraphs of human-like text.

The decision by the largest US school district to restrict the ChatGPT website from school devices and networks could have ramifications for other schools, and teachers are scrambling to figure out how to prevent cheating. The makers of ChatGPT say they are also looking for ways to detect misuse.

The free tool has been available for just five weeks but is already raising tough questions about the future of AI in education, the tech industry and many other professions.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT was launched on Nov. 30 but it’s part of a broader set of technologies developed by San Francisco-based startup OpenAI, which has close ties to Microsoft.

This is part of a new generation of AI systems who can converse, generate readable text on demand and even create novel images and videos based on what they have learned from a vast database of digital books, online articles and more media.

But unlike previous iterations of so-called “big language models,” such as OpenAI’s GPT-3, which launched in 2020, the ChatGPT tool is available for free to anyone with an internet connection and designed to be more user-friendly. It works like a written dialogue between the AI ​​system and the person asking it.

Millions of people have played it in the past month, using it to write silly poems or songs, to try to trick it into making mistakes, or for more practical purposes like helping to compose an email . All questions also help to become smarter.

What are the pitfalls?

Like similar systems, ChatGPT can produce convincing prose, but that doesn’t mean what it says is true or logical.

Its launch has little guidance on how to use it, other than a promise that ChatGPT will admit when it’s wrong, challenge the “incorrect site” and reject requests intended to generate bad responses. Since then, however, its popularity has led its creators to try to lower some people’s expectations.

“ChatGPT is very limited, but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness,” said OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in Twitter in December.

Altman added that “it would be a mistake to rely on it for anything important now.”

“This is a preview of progress; we have a lot of work to do with strength and honesty. “

Can it be used to write school papers?

Here’s what ChatGPT had to say when The Associated Press asked it to answer that question in all caps from the perspective of a principal shouting a short message over the school’s PA system:


But when asked to answer the same question itself, ChatGPT offers this more measured warning: “As a general rule, it is not appropriate to use ChatGPT or any other automated writing tool for papers in school, because it is considered cheating and will not benefit the student in the long run.”

What do the schools say?

Many school districts are still figuring out how to develop policies if and how they apply.

New York City’s education department said Thursday it is restricting access to school networks and devices because it is concerned about negative effects on student learning, as well as “concerns about safety and accuracy of content.”

But nothing prevents a student from accessing ChatGPT from a personal phone or home computer.

“While the tool may provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are necessary for academic and lifelong success,” said the spokesperson. schools Jenna Lyle.

Human or AI?

“To determine whether something is written by a human or an AI, you can look for the absence of personal experiences or emotions, check for inconsistencies in the writing style, and look at the use of filler words or repeating phrases. These can be signs that the text was generated by an AI.”

That’s what ChatGPT told an AP reporter when asked how to tell the difference.

OpenAI said in a written statement this week that it plans to work with educators as it learns how people experiment with ChatGPT in the real world.

“We don’t want ChatGPT to be used for misleading purposes in schools or anywhere else, so we’ve developed mitigations to help anyone recognize the text generated by the system,” the company said.

Does it threaten Google?

There are some speculations that ChatGPT could upend the internet search business that is currently dominated Googlebut the tech giant has been working on similar technology for years – it’s just more cautious about releasing it into the wild.

Google has helped jumpstart the trend for bigger, smarter AI language models that can be “pre-trained” on a wide range of texts. In 2018 the company introduced a system known as BERT that uses a “transformer” technique that compares words in a sentence to predict meaning and context. Some of the improvements are now baked into Google searches.

But there’s no question that successive iterations of GPT – which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer – have had an impact. Microsoft has invested at least $1 billion in OpenAI and has an exclusive license to use GPT-3.

Hey ChatGPT, can you put it all in one rap?

“ChatGPT is just a tool,

But it is not a substitute for school.

You can’t cheat your way up,

Using a machine to do your homework, you will fail.

Plagiarism is a no-no,

And the text in ChatGPT is not yours, yo.

So work, get that grade,

Don’t try to cheat, it’s not worth selling.

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