Teacher catches student cheating on ChatGPT: ‘I feel abject terror’

Welcome to the new era of academic dishonesty.

A South Carolina college professor is sounding the alarm after catching a student using ChatGPT – a new artificial intelligence chatbot that can quickly digest and spit out written information on a wide range of topics – to write an essay for his philosophy class.

The weeks-old technology, released by OpenAI and readily available to the public, deals yet another blow to higher education, already plagued by endemic cheating.

“Academia didn’t see this coming. So we’re kind of caught off guard,” Darren Hick, assistant professor of philosophy at Furman University, told The Post. Facebook, my [academic] friends said, ‘Yeah, I caught one too.’ »

ChatGPT is used by students to cheat in class, a professor warns.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Earlier this month, Hick asked his class to write a 500-word essay on 18th-century philosopher David Hume and the paradox of horror, which examines how people can enjoy something they fear, for a test to be done at home.

But one submission, he said, had a few features that “flagged” the use of AI in the student’s “rudimentary” response.

“It’s a clean style. But it is recognizable. I would say he writes like a very smart 12th grader,” Hick said of ChatGPT’s written responses to the questions.

“There’s a particular weird wording used that wasn’t wrong, just peculiar…if you teach someone how to write an essay, that’s how you tell them to write it before they do. finds its own style.

Although he has a background in copyright ethics, Hick said it was nearly impossible to prove the document was concocted by ChatGPT.

The ChatGPT bot software is a cause for concern in academia.
The ChatGPT bot software is a cause for concern in academia.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

First, the professor plugged the suspicious text into software created by the producers of ChatGPT to determine if the written response had been formulated by the AI.

He got a 99.9% probable match. But unlike standard plagiarism detection software — or a well-written academic paper — the software offered no citations.

Hick then tried to produce the same essay by asking ChatGPT a series of questions he imagined his student had asked. The move yielded similar responses, but no direct matches, as the tool formulates unique responses.

In the end, he confronted the student, who just used ChatGPT and failed as a result. The undergraduate was also turned over to the academic dean of the school.

But Hick worries that other cases will be nearly impossible to prove, and that he and his colleagues will soon be inundated with fraudulent work, as universities like Furman struggle to establish formal academic protocols for the developing technology.

For now, Hick says the best he can do is surprise suspicious students with impromptu oral exams, hoping to catch them off guard without their technological armor.

Assistant Professor Darren Hick fears what ChatGPT will do to academic honesty.
Assistant Professor Darren Hick fears what ChatGPT will do to academic honesty.
courtesy of Darren Hick

“What’s going to be the difficulty is that, unlike convincing a friend to write your essay because they’ve already taken the course or paying someone online to write the essay for you, it’s is free and instant,” he said.

Even more frightening, Hick fears that as ChatGPT continues to learn, the irregularities in his work will become less and less obvious on a student’s paper.

“It’s learning software — in a month it will be smarter. In a year it will be smarter,” he said. “I myself feel the mix between the abject dread and what it’s going to mean for my day-to-day work – but it’s also fascinating, it’s endlessly fascinating.”

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