ChatGPT AI tool used by students to generate assignments, academics warn

Academics call for tighter controls around the use of the text generator in universities and schools

Explainer: What is ChatGPT and why are academics concerned?

Explainer: What is ChatGPT and why are academics concerned?
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Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise the way students' coursework is written, but academics have called for greater controls to stop widespread cheating.

With the use of AI, students and researchers could potentially save time and effort by allowing the technology to assist with the creation of written assignments.

Another potential application of AI in academic writing is through the use of machine-learning algorithms.

There needs to be an institutional policy in place for this and some education for students that this use of AI in this way is unacceptable
Dr Athol Yates, Khalifa University

These algorithms can be trained on a large data set of academic papers and articles, learning the characteristics and patterns of successful writing.

Speaking at a Khalifa University workshop with lecturers on how to detect the use of ChatGPT, a text-generating AI software launched by US company OpenAI in November, Dr Athol Yates warned against its use by students.

“This is definitely already being used around the world, as students are tech savvy,” said Dr Yates, an associate professor of humanities and social science at Khalifa University.

“It is easy to use, so if they are late for an assignment it is a simple option. It has the potential to turn us more into classroom police.

“There is a need for all educational institutions to have institutional policy in place for this and some education for students that this use of AI in this way is unacceptable.”

More than one million users

The technology has been created by OpenAI, a San Francisco based tech-firm co-founded by Elon Musk and valued at around $29 million, according to financial reports.

On December 4, just four days after its launch, ChatGPT had more than a million users.

Schools in New York City have already moved to ban the technology across the district, but some schools will still be allowed to access the technology to aid their education.

There are AI tools specifically designed for academic writing, such as citation management software.

These tools can help students organise their sources and automatically generate citations and references in the correct formatting style.

While AI has the potential to be a valuable tool in the academic writing process, academics said it should not be used as a replacement for human effort and critical thinking.

Ultimately, the goal of using AI in academic writing should be to assist and enhance the writing process, rather than to fully automate it, they said.

“It provides good quality formulaic responses, which is what we are trying to teach,” said Dr Yates

“It is perfect and uses natural language, so it is difficult to spot.

“The lack of references is an issue, but there are ways to get around this.

“Students don’t have to submit an entire response. It can be reworked and, hey presto, you have a piece of work — we need to decide if that is acceptable as we have no policy at the moment on this.”

Risk of cyber attacks

There is a risk that AI could be used for malicious purposes, such as cyber attacks or the spread of false information.

As AI systems become more advanced, they could potentially be used to automate and amplify these activities, causing significant harm to individuals and society as a whole.

Finally, the widespread adoption of AI could lead to significant job displacement, as many tasks currently performed by humans are automated.

This could result in widespread unemployment and economic disruption, and it will be important for governments and businesses to address this issue and ensure that those affected are protected.

Overall, while AI has the potential to bring about many benefits, it is important that careful consideration is given to address the potential dangers it poses.

This will require ongoing research and collaboration between researchers, policymakers and industry professionals to ensure that the development and use of AI is responsible and ethical.

“If I was going to use ChatGPT, I would benefit from seeing the flow of ideas that it generates,” said Amira Al Aamri, a research scientist at Khalifa University.

“Often, we don’t know where to start when writing, so these tools can help with that.

“I am not saying it should never be used, as there are benefits, but the outcomes should not be copied and pasted.

“I would want to see the process students have gone through to generate their work and this does not allow for that. That means more work for the student.

“When the software develops to produce references, it will be a game changer.”

This story was created was generated with ChatGPT

This story has largely been created using ChatGPT. We entered 'write a news article on the dangers of artificial intelligence in the command box' and ChatGPT created a 400-word story in seconds.

We added quotes from experts at Khalifa University who gave a presentation on the power of ChatGPT and its potential uses.

Updated: January 10, 2023, 3:40 AM