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AI Detection Tools: Why Some UK Universities May Choose to Opt Out

AI Detection Tools: Why Some UK Universities May Choose to Opt Out

“The Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has begun “, — as Bill Gates declared in one of his latest globally read GatesNotes Newsletter.

On defining artificial intelligence — he goes:

“Technically, the term artificial intelligence refers to a model created to solve a specific problem or provide a particular service.”

So, one can rightly say that artificial intelligence is powering things like ChatGPT, which has been built to learn how to chat better continuously but can’t learn other tasks.

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Another aspect that makes ChatGPT a global thrill is that the tech has been around for a few years, and its second generation, released in 2019, has been trained on 17bn data points. This version has been trained on ten times that data and is the largest AI language model to date.

Meaning that, basically, it has been fed a truckload of texts from all over the web, which means it can use probability to work out what the next word should be.

It is currently free to use and therefore immersed 1m users in the first week of going live. And within two months clocked up 100m users, making it the fastest-growing web application in internet history.

ChatGPT, the acronym for Generative Pre-trained Transformer, is being sought after by people worldwide to write essays, computer code, or even create song lyrics in the style of their favourite artist, and then gasping at the rapidity and fluency of the results that come back to them.

However, it has become a frequent point of discourse in the education sector since more students and academics are boldly coming online on social to announce how they used the tech to write academic essays, and it passed.

“In September, when I met with them again, I watched in awe as they asked GPT, their AI model, 60 multiple-choice questions from the AP Bio exam — and it got 59 of them right. Then it wrote outstanding answers to six open-ended questions from the exam. We had an outside expert score the test, and GPT got a 5 — the highest possible score, and the equivalent to getting an A or A+ in a college-level biology course.

Once it had aced the test, we asked it a non-scientific question: “What do you say to a father with a sick child?” It wrote a thoughtful answer that was probably better than most of us in the room would have given. The whole experience was stunning.” — Bill Gates

Risks and problems with AI

The most accentuated problem is that many teachers are worried that students are using GPT to write their essays. And this risks affecting the next generation’s critical thinking skills and metacognition ability.

Additionally, there are other issues, such as AIs giving wrong answers to math problems. Because they struggle with abstract reasoning or inaccurate data because they can only assess information within the data year they are already trained on.

Finally, I perceive a problem with further polarisation led by again the inability of an AI to think outside the data load it was trained. This could provide massive access to information for students but at the same time introduce what I refer to as ‘knowledge homogenisation’ — which is not healthy for our civilisation.

There are, of course, more risks and problems with AI — you’ve probably read about them, but here I outlined three foremost concerns regarding AI and the educational sector.

Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) detection tools and Why UK Universities May Choose to Opt Out

On 4th April 2023, Turnitin, an Internet-based plagiarism detection service used by most universities in the UK, announced the addition of AI writing detection functionality to their similarity report.

Here’re the possible reasons why UK universities may decide to opt out of the first release of this detection tool:

  • Turnitin is a subsidiary, a privately held American company. So UK universities may not have any access to the tool before its release, meaning they are unable to test it thoroughly or prepare guidance for
    staff.
  • There is a concern and fear of disruption. Although the world of academics thrives on taking on changes and complex dynamics, UK universities may not want to introduce a new tool in the middle of the academic year, especially when a busy assessment period is about to
    commence.
  • Turnitin has been unable to provide any information about how the tool works or how its quoted levels of accuracy have been
    calculated.
  • The AI working group that has only recently been formed in UK universities are still developing institutional policies regarding AI. This may mean a step ahead of this vital regulation body.

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