Cheaters beware! ChatGPT maker releases AI detection tool
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The maker of ChatGPT is trying to curb its reputation as a freewheeling cheating machine with a new tool that can help teachers detect if a student or artificial intelligence wrote that homework.
The new AI Text Classifier launched Tuesday by OpenAI follows a weeks-long discussion at schools and colleges over fears that ChatGPT's ability to write just about anything on command could fuel academic dishonesty and hinder learning.
OpenAI cautions that its new tool, like others already available, is not foolproof. The method for detecting AI-written text “is imperfect and it will be wrong sometimes,” said Jan Leike, head of OpenAI's alignment team tasked to make its systems safer.
“Because of that, it shouldn't be solely relied upon when making decisions,” Leike said.
Teenagers and college students were among the millions of people who began experimenting with ChatGPT after it launched November 30 as a free application on OpenAI's website.
And while many found ways to use it creatively and harmlessly, the ease with which it could answer take-home test questions and assist with other assignments sparked a panic among some educators.
By the time schools opened for the new year, New York City, Los Angeles and other big public school districts began to block its use in classrooms and on school devices.
The Seattle Public Schools district initially blocked ChatGPT on all school devices in December but then opened access to educators who want to use it as a teaching tool, said Tim Robinson, the district spokesman.
“We can't afford to ignore it,” Robinson said.
The district is also discussing possibly expanding the use of ChatGPT into classrooms to let teachers use it to train students to be better critical thinkers and to let students use the application as a “personal tutor” or to help generate new ideas when working on an assignment, Robinson said.
School districts around the country say they are seeing the conversation around ChatGPT evolve quickly.
OpenAI emphasised the limitations of its detection tool in a blog post Tuesday, but said that in addition to deterring plagiarism, it could help to detect automated disinformation campaigns and other misuse of AI to mimic humans.
The longer a passage of text, the better the tool is at detecting if an AI or human wrote something. Type in any text and the tool will label it as either “very unlikely, unlikely, unclear if it is, possibly, or likely” AI-generated.
But much like ChatGPT itself, which was trained on a huge trove of digitised books, newspapers and online writings, but often confidently spits out falsehoods or nonsense, it's not easy to interpret how it came up with a result.
“We don't fundamentally know what kind of pattern it pays attention to, or how it works internally,” Leike said. “There's really not much we could say at this point about how the classifier actually works.”
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