Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 14, 2024

Be gone, bot: Don’t use AI to cheat your way through college.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | February 2, 2023


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing higher education, but as we integrate ChatGPT, a language model created by OpenAI, into our classrooms, we must also consider the ethical implications. Privacy, accountability, and the student-teacher dynamic are all at stake. It's crucial that we take responsibility for ensuring the responsible use of this powerful technology, before it's too late.

Surprise! That first paragraph wasn’t actually written by The News-Letter Editorial Board (eagle-eyed readers may have spotted the Oxford comma). It was generated by ChatGPT — and this is exactly what has professors worried.

The AI tool — released in November by OpenAI, a Microsoft-backed AI research and deployment company —  has an uncanny ability to mimic human behavior. It can compose songs, message Tinder matches and generate real estate listing descriptions

What’s troubling educators is that ChatGPT can also write essays, take the SAT and answer physics questions. As a result, some of the nation’s largest school districts have banned the technology out of fear students will use it to cheat and plagiarize.

Meanwhile, in higher education, professors across the country are preemptively changing their syllabi to include more in-class and handwritten assignments. You might start to notice some Hopkins professors explicitly mention artificial intelligence in their academic integrity policies.

Though ChatGPT might make it easier to fudge an assignment, cheating isn’t a new phenomenon at Hopkins. Even though many universities, including Hopkins, provide faculty with plagiarism detection softwares like Turnitin, we suspect students will always find ways to plagiarize and cheat. ChatGPT is just the latest addition to their arsenal. 

With recent advances in AI, the University should clarify its academic integrity policy to guide professors and students on the use of ChatGPT and other emerging technologies. The policy currently makes no mention of AI, nor does it give Hopkins professors parameters governing its usage in the classroom.

AI blurs the lines between plagiarism and resourcefulness. For instance, would it be permissible to cite ChatGPT as a source for an assignment? Or what if a student uses AI to generate an outline for an English essay but still writes the paper themselves?

Whether it’s ChatGPT, or copying homework from a friend, cheating on your assignments is akin to cheating yourself out of an education. We’re all in college to get a balanced and formative education, and we should take advantage of the entire college experience.

College provides us with the unique opportunity to learn for the sake of learning, to expose ourselves to new perspectives and to become more well-rounded individuals. With courses like “Women Making Films About Women” to “The History of Fake News from The Flood to The Apocalypse,” chances are you should be able to find at least one that interests you.

Sure, ChatGPT is fun to play around with in your free time, or get a good laugh out of when you’re with friends in Brody. Yes, it’s truly exciting and mind-blowing to see what new technology is capable of — but please, don’t forget what you’re capable of, too.

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