So you know how people are worried that students can use chatGPT to generate essays and submit them as their own assignments?

Some universities have already updated their policies to forbid this, but the problem is that they can’t use normal plagiarism detection techniques, because the text generated by chatGPT never existed before.

So, it turns out that Scott Aaronson, of quantum computing fame, is now working with OpenAI (makers of chatGPT) to come up with a way to “watermark” text generated by chatGPT.

The idea is that chatGPT text should be tweaked slightly in a way that’s not perceptible to humans, but can be predicted statistically by analyzing the text.

On one hand, this is pretty cool! It’s certainly one way to try to solve this problem, and it’s super interesting from a technical perspective.

But I also like the idea of a different approach, where we embrace chatGPT as a tool, and teach and evaluate news skills for using the tool.

For example, when writing, the hardest thing is to get words on paper. But once you’ve written something crappy, it’s much easier to edit and refine it into a polished piece of work.

I can imagine using chatGPT to do that first step…to write “something”…and then refining that into your own piece of work…not just rewriting it but generating new ideas, arguments, etc.

Maybe you would just need to acknowledge it, but on the other hand, do you acknowledge using grammerly or other tools in your essays? Not sure where I stand on this yet.

Now, in the case of writing essays at university, the goal isn’t just to have an essay at the end, but to use the process of writing to engage with the material in a way that helps you learn and internalize it.

You could argue that using chatGPT will limit that.

But I think we can and should try to find different ways to incorporate chatGPT (and other tools/methods) to facilitate learning in a world where these AI tools exist, rather than banning them.

What do you think?

(Also, happy new year! 🥳)

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