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The First Year of AI College Ends in Ruin

The Atlantic [read free] There’s an arms race on campus, and professors are losing: “One-hundred percent AI. That’s what the software concluded about a student’s paper. One of the professors in the academic program I direct had come across this finding and asked me what to do with it. Then another one saw the same result—100 percent AI—for a different paper by that student, and also wondered: What does this mean? I did not know. I still don’t. The problem breaks down into more problems: whether it’s possible to know for certain that a student used AI, what it even means to “use” AI for writing papers, and when that use amounts to cheating. The software that had flagged our student’s papers was also multilayered: Canvas, our courseware system, was running Turnitin, a popular plagiarism-detection service, which had recently installed a new AI-detection algorithm. The alleged evidence of cheating had emerged from a nesting doll of ed-tech black boxes. This is college life at the close of ChatGPT’s first academic year: a moil of incrimination and confusion. In the past few weeks, I’ve talked with dozens of educators and students who are now confronting, for the very first time, a spate of AI “cheating.” Their stories left me reeling. Reports from on campus hint that legitimate uses of AI in education may be indistinguishable from unscrupulous ones, and that identifying cheaters—let alone holding them to account—is more or less impossible…”

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