There is new software available it is called chatGPT and it is making some noise in the academic world. Some students are successfully using ChatGPT to write their essays. Teachers are upset and calling this cheating (which it is). There have been bans and some IT departments for school have worked to disable the use of ChatGPT on the schools WIFI (this works until the students go home).
Cheating is nothing new and the fight against cheating will continue to take place at schools all over the world. A university student at Princeton spent his spring break writing an application that spots essays written by ChatGPT as well as any other AI technology. This is a cat and mouse game the cheaters find a new way to cheat and the teachers catch on and stop one way then two new ways open up. The major difference about this new cheating, using the AI to write an essay, and the older cheating paying the nerd to do it is that AI is that the new AI is almost indistinguishable from human writing. ChatGPT has gotten that good yes.
Thinking about cheating and essay writing got me questioning AI technology and essay writing altogether. I began to wonder why teachers use essay writing at all? What is the purpose for having a student write an essay?
When a student writes the essay they engage in critical thinking, they conduct research. Critical thinking is crucial in our daily lives and research is unavoidable. The better you are at both of these techniques the easier life will be for you. The debate rages on concerning whether or not essay writing is the best delivery method for teaching these techniques to students.
The reasons for teaching essay writing Critical thinking and research are important no doubt but is essay writing as important as it was once thought to be? Maybe teachers should write essays defending essay writing assignments. I love to ask what if? So if not an essay what should be used to teach critical thinking and research? Can the new delivery system be cheated as well? No doubt yes and cheaters will get better at cheating so I guess the real question is whta do teachers and professors prefer as a delivery system?
I am not good at writing and a slow reader however I love to do both, I imagine if I where a professor I would continue to assign essays and use the applications to check for cheating and plagiarism. Maybe as pennace for cheating I would assign a new task to the cheater. The cheater needs to write an essay explaining how the AI technology works and how they were caught. The paper will require research of the technology and critical thinking for answering the question.
Writing teaches critical thinking and is a way of engaging in what feels like intimate communication. For now most of the communication is with humans but maybe in the future our AI will engage us just a intimately as the humans do. If we cannot tell it is AI has the AI passed the Turing test?