01 Sep OpenAI to Teachers: Tools to Detect ChatGPT-Generated Text Don’t Work
The company issued the advice in a new FAQ instructing educators about the use of ChatGPT in schools, including the potential pitfalls in trying to detect AI-written text.
A number of tools have emerged to address how AI-powered chatbots can help students cheat on their homework assignments and tests. But according to OpenAI, depending on a tool to suss out AI-written text from a student’s work is loaded with problems.
“While some (including OpenAI) have released tools that purport to detect AI-generated content, none of these have proven to reliably distinguish between AI-generated and human-generated content,” the company wrote in the FAQ.
OpenAI added that “one of our key findings was that these tools sometimes suggest that human-written content was generated by AI.” For example, the company’s own investigation found AI detector tools could mistakenly flag human-written text from the playwright William Shakespeare and the Declaration of Independence as AI-generated.
“There were also indications that it could disproportionately impact students who had learned or were learning English as a second language and students whose writing was particularly formulaic or concise,” the company added.
The results risk causing a teacher to falsely accuse a student of cheating with ChatGPT. OpenAI also noted that some teachers may be resorting to entering text that they suspect is AI-generated into ChatGPT and asking whether it wrote the content. But this approach is also flawed because the chatbot program has limited memory, and can’t recall conversation histories from other users. OpenAI even points out ChatGPT can “sometimes make up responses to questions like ‘did you write this [essay]?’ or ‘could this have been written by AI?’”
The FAQ certainly points out the challenges when trying to detect AI-written text. But OpenAI doesn’t exactly supply a solution for detecting ChatGPT-based cheating. Instead, the company is advocating for an approach that focuses on transparency, with the student showing to the teacher and their classmates how they’re using the chatbot to answer questions.
“Students can demonstrate their ability to interact with AI and their understanding of the shortcomings of AI systems,” OpenAI said. “Educators can assess the quality of the questions asked, the relevance of the information obtained, and how well the student understood to challenge, double-check, and consider potential biases in that information.”
Of course, one way to stop cheating with ChatGPT is to simply ban its use at a school and force students to complete assignments without internet access. However, OpenAI expects the use of AI tools to become “commonplace” in society, which it says underscores the need to teach students how to responsibly use the technology.
So OpenAI is advocating that educators embrace ChatGPT as a teaching tool. In a related blog post, the company shared how several teachers are using ChatGPT with their students, including turning the AI program into a debate partner. The blog post also notes ChatGPT can be tapped to help educators quickly create quizzes, tests, and lesson plans for their students. It even includes several sample prompts teachers can use to help them with their work.