Artificial Intelligence is here to stay, and there are huge, sweeping consequences. While AI art takes jobs away from artists, AI essays are taking away academia from human students.
Reported by Vice, students are starting to use AI language tools to write essays for them. While their essays are marked as high quality, they are not written by them — unbeknownst to their teachers.
Human students and AI essays
In the Vice article, Reddit user innovate_rye revealed that there been using OpenAI’s GPT-3 model to generate essays. The Reddit user explained that they are seen as an “A” student in biochemistry, but AI is helping them stay there.
“For biology, we would learn about biotech and write five good and bad things about biotech,” the student said. “I would send a prompt to the AI like, ‘what are five good and bad things about biotech?’ and it would generate an answer that would get me an A.”
Another student revealed that AI essays are not picked up by plagiarism checking algorithms. Despite being based off existing materials, GPT-3 is so adept at mimicking human essays that it comes off as man made.
One student told Reddit that they’ve been using GPT-3 to generate essays for other students. Furthermore, they’ve been charging for their services while classmates herald them as a genius.
“I have been using this tool for quite some time and only recently came up with the idea to use it to write essays, answer questions about movies and books for school projects, and much more,” they wrote. “I feel a little guilty about it,but I don't really care that much anymore. For a couple of weeks, I have made $100 profit by ‘doing’ homework for other classmates and now I am looked at as a genius.“
Past the point of no return
The existence of AI essays is something that is completely unstoppable now that it exists. In a simple phrase, you can’t turn back the clock. In the thoughts of writing instructor Peter Laffin, this will be the new norm. He told Vice:
“We lose the journey of learning. We might know more things but we never learned how we got there. We’ve said forever that the process is the best part and we know that. The satisfaction is the best part. That might be the thing that’s nixed from all of this. And I don’t know the kind of person that creates more than anything. Beyond academics, I don’t know what a person is like if they’ve never had to struggle through learning. I don’t know the behavioral implications of that.”
While GPT-3 is already proficient enough to create AI essays, it is not the end for OpenAI. At the time of writing, GPT-4 is in development, an even more realistic language model, if that’s to be believed.
AI essays and other writings will become commonplace as time goes on and technology evolves. Will that be a good thing? In our mind, probably not.