When the thesis is written by AI

UNIside | 2023-01-15
More and more students are using artificial intelligence to prepare their papers. Text generation algorithms are getting better and better, but they are still far from perfect, so the majority of university lecturers are not bothered by their use for the time being, even if they generally have very different opinions on the subject.

Who uses ChatGPT (and its peers) and for what?

University students are the ideal target group for such algorithms: they have to prepare texts frequently and in large quantities, and they also understand how the Internet works. Offers are getting more and more abundant, they are not even expensive and almost all of them have a free trial version. However, as it turned out in the case of ChatGPT, they mainly excel in English, or possibly even Mandarin.

Photo: 123RF

The Register made an extensive report about the fact that their main users were university students, who are increasingly using artificial intelligence to write their essays. A few well-defined instructions, a press of a button, and the thesis is already done and can be sent to the instructor.

Not all professors are bothered by this

However, although the algorithms can generate semantically and syntactically correct text, the content (at least for the time being) is often incoherent, the logic of the thought process is rather clumsy, and the data is not always exactly what is necessary to be included in a given place.

Does using AI qualify as cheating?

But quality is not the only question. Is writing an essay with AI considered cheating? According to Scott Graham (associate professor in the Department of Rhetoric & Writing at the University of Texas), this is not a problem. Because the essence actually comes after the preparation of the outline or first version of the text. For some students, this is a great effort. For them, AI is a huge help, because it gets them over the first big hurdle.

Annette Vee, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh explains that writing is fundamentally shaped by technology. Text editors have spell checkers, and AI is actually a similar tool, only on a different level.