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Can New AI Program ChatGPT Assist in Plagiarism?

By Lizz Panchyk


A new AI program called ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) was launched by OpenAI in November 2022. This is an interactive bot that converses with users and can write entire stories, resumes, recipes and even construct code with just a simple prompt. It is free to use through chat.openai.com with an account.


Here is an example of the capabilities of ChatGPT when given a prompt.

It is not directly connected to the internet, so all of the answers it comes up with are directly from the bot. The responses are also not automated, so answers will not be repeated or worded the exact same when asked the same question more than once. According to chatgptonline.net, “ChatGPT is an advanced AI chatbot trained by OpenAI, which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises and reject inappropriate requests.” When I asked ChatGPT what it is, I received the response: “I’m an AI assistant trained to assist users with a variety of tasks and answer questions to the best of my ability. I was developed by OpenAI, a research organization focused on advancing artificial intelligence in a responsible manner.”


While ChatGPT’s intentions are innocent, the AI itself has been causing issues in schools. There is worry that instead of essays and other written assignments being created by the student, they will instead be written by ChatGPT. And since the AI comes up with a different response every time, there is no way to know whether or not it was written by a human or the bot. The one way for schools to immediately prevent the usage of this chat is to directly block, ban and prohibit it through the school, which a lot of schools already have been doing.


Besides school, this can also be an issue for journalists. In news writing, any form of plagiarism is taken very seriously and is strictly prohibited. But is ChatGPT considered plagiarism? It may not be taking words from the internet, but it also comes up with responses that aren’t your words. This could make current writing more difficult as there will be constant questioning surrounding the chat bot.


Princeton actually built an app that detects any AI plagiarism called GPTZero. This will help to weed out any possible academic-related plagiarism in the school. Meanwhile, OpenAI is working on a way to prevent plagiarism, or what they call “AIgiarism.” According to Alex Hern’s article in “The Guardian,” “Now, the bot’s makers, San Francisco-based OpenAI, are trying to counter the risk by ‘watermarking’ the bot’s output and making plagiarism easier to spot.” This digital watermark could help counter any plagiarism that may occur when not innocently using ChatGPT.


This bot overall could be fun to play around with. You can discover a new recipe or just entertain yourself for a while with its human-like responses. What is interesting is that the knowledge it has, although in an attempt to be useful, actually has a cut-off year. It is unable to provide information about events past 2021. So it can give you general information, but nothing up to date, like the knowledge of who our current president is.


The OpenAI website does however list its limitations on ChatGPT followed by examples. They are open to feedback on this new system and encourage people to use it to both learn and recognize its faults.


This is a dangerous tool because of its ease in writing whatever specific prompt you ask it. While it can be entertaining to use, teachers, professors, journalists and writers have to worry about the power this tool may hold in assisting in nefarious manners. Hopefully this issue will be resolved by OpenAI, but for now, indulge in asking the most complicated and intricate questions and be shocked at the response it may give you. Technology is groundbreaking, but also intimidating.

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