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The definition of cheating in academic settings has been altered with the emergence of AI technology. The pressure to succeed academically, along with the ease of obtaining answers through technology, has led to an increase in students turning to cheating as a means of achieving their goals. Now, AI-powered tutoring systems and online homework help services can provide students with answers to questions they should be solving on their own.

The paragraph you just read was completely simulated by ChatGPT, an online AI platform that can devise a range of material — college essays, poems and cover letters — based on user input such as a question or command: “write an essay about frogs.” 

If you feel cheated by this revelation, you stand in solidarity with many current educators and writers. Content writers, who create material for blogs and product merchandising, risk losing their jobs to ChatGPT, which offers the benefits of an insurmountable informational database, free of cost. Educators are tasked with wholly changing how they teach, with the platform being able to instantly concoct entire essays or identify a singular mistake in lines of code. Additionally, emails, cover letters and news reports can be easily generated at the cost of authenticity; globally, people are contending with how this new development in AI could revolutionize the concept of work as we know it.

Different versions of ChatGPT had been launched in years past, but its current form, version 3.5, is by far the most highly functioning, simulatory and accessible AI platform yet. Exploring its tools provokes the resounding revelation that we are living in an era where artificial intelligence can mirror and usurp human ability. There is an unparalleled fear in realizing that a technological platform can write and create a range of materials faster and better than many humans. 

AI revolves around human input, ranging from the background coding that creates its operating system, to the questions and ideas asked by users of the platform. AI is also buttressed by access to the internet, which helps inform the contents of its informational database. As AI develops, it will only be more proficient at imitating the human voice when responding to inquiries. With just a simple question, essays and articles with increasingly intelligent jargon and fluid sentence structure can be output and submitted for rewarding grades without the time, energy and knowledge that the same essay would have taken if written manually.

The rise in popularity of this platform is astounding. Netflix hit a million users in four years; Instagram accomplished the same in two months. The same feat took ChatGPT five days. Much of the traffic was generated by intellectual curiosity, but as more individuals became aware of the software’s capabilities, ChatGPT swiftly joined the arsenal of cheating tools used by students. With over ten million queries each day, it’s not a stretch to imagine millions of students are using the tool to fabricate essays or look up homework answers. In fact, despite being released in November, the software has already been banned from some public school systems. 

Studies indicate that cheating during high school and undergraduate studies leads to dishonesty and other ethical concerns in the workplace. Cheating leads to an incompetent absorption of knowledge, the easily accessible gateway of ChatGPT undermining creative ability and intellectual capacity. While some schools and universities are deciding to ban ChatGPT, this fundamentally neglects to consider that students can use hotspots and VPNs to access the platform on campus and in class. Moreover, ChatGPT is here to stay, having already altered workplaces by taking over menial tasks, such as email writing, accounting and building presentations. Institutions won’t be able to truly curb cheating, they have to accept that students will decide as to how much they want to integrate the software into their education; writing an essay with the platform is only cheating oneself of knowledge.

For starters, ChatGPT’s resources can be beneficial for learning. Instead of trying to condemn  the technology altogether, we must discern the potential usefulness of AI. At Emory University, different professors have varying ideas concerning how or whether to integrate ChatGPT. For instance, in certain computer science courses, professors might encourage students to run their code through the software, yet are opposed to students using the software to completely create said code. 

Associate Professor of Political Science Eric Reinhardt, for example, has decided to prohibit submissions produced entirely by softwares like ChatGPT, but allow students to use such tools for polishing and editing already “student-written” work. Citing his goal “to guide how students might ethically and educationally use this tool,” Reinhardt requires that if students do use this software, they should attach a log of queries fed into the service as well as their respective outputs to the end of their assignment. 

ChatGPT is unavoidable and should be selectively used to students’ advantage. For example, struggling students can utilize ChatGPT to explain concepts and generate practice problems. The platform is a foundational source for summarized research, which could help students save time with assignments. Used correctly, ChatGPT is no different from a tool like Khan Academy — a supplementary resource for the promotion of education.

Traffic from users as well as technical upgrades from coders have enhanced ChatGPT’s abilities to output improved writing.  Fortunately, the development of ChatGPT has proliferated the development of AI detection software. While human ability to discern AI-generated text may plateau, other AI can be created to identify what pieces of text are derived by software like ChatGPT. Universities should familiarize themselves with existing detection tools and even fund technology that can combat AI plagiarism. Professors and educational specialists alike have called for universities to acclimate to AI, ultimately adopting the “if you can’t beat them, join them” ideology to realistically confront the new reality of schooling. 

There is a naive optimism in the hope that humans will prioritize human intellect over the regurgitated and robotic thought of AI. AI may be able to replicate or assist with certain creative tasks, but it will never fully replace the unique and unpredictable nature of human creativity. If current students set the precedent of choosing to invest in their own intellect, ChatGPT and its successors can be integrated into society without completely overhauling the authenticity of its functioning. 

One of the sentences in the last paragraph was written by ChatGPT. Can you guess which? 

The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board. The Editorial Board is composed of Isabelle Bellott-McGrath, Rachel Broun, Evelyn Cho, Ellie Fivas, Marc Goedemans, Aayam Kc, Elyn Lee, Saanvi Nayar, Shruti Nemala, Nushrat Nur, Sara Perez and Kayla Robinson.

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The Editorial Board is the official voice of the Emory Wheel and is editorially separate from the Wheel's board of editors.