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AI Writes Essays, Makes Cheating Easy and Undetectable

Maybe Republicans need to spend less time fighting the fake threat of their mistaken portrayal of critical race theory and more time fighting the technology-enhanced moral rot of the youth. College and high school cheaters are using artificial intelligence to write their homework, and they think their cheating demonstrates their cleverness and signals a bright future:

“It would be simple assignments that included extended responses,” innovate_rye, who asked to use their Reddit handle to avoid detection by their college, told Motherboard. “For biology, we would learn about biotech and write five good and bad things about biotech. I would send a prompt to the AI like, ‘what are five good and bad things about biotech?’ and it would generate an answer that would get me an A.”

Without AI, innovate_rye says the homework they consider “busywork” would take them two hours. Now homework assignments like this take them 20 minutes.

“I like to learn a lot [and] sometimes schoolwork that I have done before makes me procrastinate and not turn in the assignment,” innovate_rye explains. “Being able to do it faster and more efficient seems like a skill to me.”

…When AeUsako_ was a high school senior last spring, they used OpenAI to generate an entire essay about contemporary world affairs. They told Motherboard that, while they didn’t ace the assignment—they lost points for failing to cite outside sources—they did learn that plagiarism-checking algorithms wouldn’t flag the AI-generated text.

“Because I used Open AI I didn’t feel the constant anxiety of needing to focus all my time on writing it,” AeUsako_, who also asked to use their online pseudonym, told Motherboard.

…“I still do my homework on things I need to learn to pass, I just use AI to handle the things I don’t want to do or find meaningless,” innovate_rye added. “If AI is able to do my homework right now, what will the future look like? These questions excite me” [Claire Woodcock, “Students Are Using AI to Write Their Papers, Because of Course They Are,” Vice, 2022.10.14].

The anonymous cheater should drop the pretense that cheating is a skill that portends an exciting future. There is nothing exciting about a future filled with liars, and claiming credit for a computer-generated essay is lying. Cheaters who presume to know what homework is worth their time and what homework is mere “busywork” should at least demonstrate the integrity of telling their teachers, “I choose not to do these assignments; please give me a zero on them and calculate my final grade accordingly.”

The anonymous cheater should drop the pretense that the cheater likes to learn. Writing is not busywork that gets in the way of learning. Writing an integral part of the learning process. Writing helps us organize, rehearse, and expand our knowledge. I don’t know everything about South Dakota politics (for such omniscience, please contact Representative-Elect Tony Venhuizen, R-13/Sioux Falls), but what I do know has been vastly enhanced by taking the time to write about it.

Writing also teaches long-term attention. Good writing requires sustained attention to multiple sources. Writers must pay attention to the world around them, looking for examples and metaphors that can help them and their readers make sense of their topic. Writers must pay attention to the written work itself: they must remember what they’ve said already and keep track of how it fits with what they are about to say. They must pay attention to the outline they’ve devised, and when their written thoughts start to deviate from that outline, they must think about whether they should pull their thoughts back onto the planned track or whether that deviation suggests a new track worth following in a revised outline.

AI-generated essays promise a future of softer, flabbier, less creative minds, as surely as technology and consumption make mankind listlessly flabby in WALL-E.

On the good side, schools can stop spending money on plagiarism-detection software like Turnitin, as essays generated by Large Language Models (LLMs) can’t be caught by current plagiarism detectors:

State-of-the-art AI text generators produce new text that is not identical to any of the text sources used to train the LLM. The generated text could be similar but not a literal copy of the source text. And this is exactly what makes LLMs so different from “standard” Internet copy-pasting: the latter gave pieces of text identical or almost identical to something that could be found on the Internet, whereas AI-generated text can’t be matched word-by-word to anytext available online.

Plagiarism is defined as “the use of text produced by others and presented by the student as his or her own,” so it’s not really the text itself but its unfair use that is forbidden. Then, what is a teacher supposed to do with a “not so original” essay handed by a student when the origin of the text is impossible to trace? Is the teacher going to punish the student because an essay was “too well written”? Can the lack of originality be taken as plagiarism?

I don’t think so [Rafe Brena, “Plagiarism Will Soon Be Undetectable in School Essays,” Medium, 2022.09.30].

We may be able to preserve honest essay-writing in classroom tests—timed essays written by hand on paper, no electronic devices allowed—but such brief writing in controlled environments mostly demonstrates what students have already learned. Writing tests have their place—asking the above-quoted cheaters to put down their phones, take out a piece of paper, and take 30 minutes to expand on the thoughts “they” expressed in “their” previously submitted essays would help determine if they really spent the time they saved by cheating in pursuing more learning or if they just dedicated that time to gaming and TikTokking. But controlled writing tests don’t give writers the opportunity to research, reflect, and revise as they can when writing an essay over a week or a month or a semester.

Teachers will thus be too busy trying to outthink computers and develop new ways of teaching attention, composition, and honesty to indoctrinate their high schoolers into critical race theory. The real threat to learning is not any wokish graduate-school construct;  the real threat to learning is technology that makes cheating easy, coupled with the lack of moral integrity that lets students think it’s o.k. to lie to their teachers.


  1. P. Aitch 2022-10-18 07:56

    So does proof reading, Cory. #grins – i.e. Writing an integral part of the learning process. (Paragraph 9)

    – Not attempting to be an obnoxious, know it all “problem solver” but if AI created an essay, then AI could detect what another AI created and attribute it, with a high rate of accuracy, to that other AI program.
    – Every student and literally every human has an internet profile that can be searched to determine whether that profile had used AI to create an essay. If you’re asking/paying to join a class, then you’ve given DeFacto permission to have your profile searched randomly. That threat will deter most of the AI assistance in doing homework.

  2. John 2022-10-18 10:23

    Thank you, Cory. Good essay.
    I’m reminded of the academic war on pocket calculators fought during my formative years. Eventually the academic Luddites realized that using calculators allowed more folks to do better work than long-hand and slideruler math. Not many folks swear by the abacus.

    I suspect the present academic war on cursive, and by extension, AI, will also fall by way of the abacus. AI is displacing entire professional fields. We don’t need lawyers to draft most wills, powers of attorney, trusts, real estate documents, etc. Just plug and play. AI reads x-rays more accurately than do radiologists – one may not care about that unless its a diagnosis of oneself or loved one. I suspect that AI, and the use of the non-profit business model, may foster a resurgence in local news reporting, not paper sheets, but via websites.

  3. O 2022-10-18 11:08

    When politicians devalue education, why should there be surprise when students follow suit? If I were told over and over that the system I am entrapped within holds no worth, why would I be motivated to put forward effort?

    Furthermore, when shown on a regular basis that the rule of law only applies to the other guy, why would I want to be the sucker that chooses the harder pathway to success?

    This is why the GOP doesn’t talk about values – these students ARE the values of the society of the GOP come home to roost.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2022-10-18 13:56

    I’m not concerned about anything college students do, as long as they become Democrats….and vote.

  5. Mark Anderson 2022-10-18 15:34

    How do you think that they came up with the attack on Critical Race Theory and then Trans youth. What’s next?

  6. David Bergan 2022-10-18 21:07

    Cheating harms oneself the most in the long run and this AI plagiarism is no exception. Learning to write is learning to think.

    Kind regards,

  7. P. Aitch 2022-10-18 22:39

    I contemplate why this undetected cheating upsets Cory so? He appears to be too personally invested and too offended for his own mental health.
    Anyone care to opine?

  8. All Mammal 2022-10-19 00:12

    Oo, ooo, I will, P. Aitch! This is more than likely not Mr. H’s main gripe with the AI cheating….yet;) I do believe artificial learning is a bunch of pretentious show-offs trying to play God and we can learn from the scariest novel ever written, as well as every zombie flick ever made, and you’d have to definitely take into account most sci-fi plot lines like Terminator and Bladerunner- when man plays God and attempts to create life in his image, it ends up becoming his demise. There are too many warning fables to count that advise us to turn away from creating artificial life.

    Remember: “Its alive! Its alive!” never works out well. Lets stick to pre programming what it is we want the machine to compute beforehand. No need for the AI to get ahead of us and embark on ‘thinking’ on it’s own.

    Secondly, and where I will take liberties in assuming Mr. H and I align, the students and anyone else taking credit for outputs rendered from prompted inputs into AI, without any interpretation of or relationship with that output is plagiarism. And it is cheating. Good people aren’t down with plagiarism and cheating. Those things are morally wrong and should never be acceptable in our list of accomplishments, especially in academics. We gain nothing worth having from using the ‘suck n spew’ method. The only justification for machines should be to assist people in helping people. Period. If AI isn’t being used for the public good, 86 it.

    Nikola Tesla once said something like, “When attempting to accomplish anything, scientifically or academically, anything, first ask yourself, ‘Will this work help people?’ And if the answer is yes; do it. If the answer is no- stop. Don’t do it.”

    You can always count on me to opine, P.

  9. P. Aitch 2022-10-19 05:00

    Well opined, All Mammal. “Do that which helps others. Be the electrical socket. Don’t be needy, as is the lamp.”

  10. RST Tribal Member 2022-10-19 07:26

    Hum, doesn’t the inept inbred Republicans in South Dakota take legislation from other republican states and regurgitate it as their own? Where did “In God We Trust” in all public schools come from? Surely not from the godless drunkenly bunch of leadership fools hanging out in Pierre annually from January to March. The use of AI might assist these backward thinking fools to make South Dakota a better state for all and not just the under education working group or the getting richer pawns. Gee South Dakotans cannot afford inflation, yet the inept inbred Republicans can only blame and not provide assist with food or health care purchases. Maybe even allow for a living wage would be a nudge towards a solution.

    I wait for the day when the inept inbred Republicans develop an original thought, but with the force feeding of education standards by outsiders through the brain stem of head horseback rider Nomier and a few of her followers that day is yet to come. Maybe November will bring a change.

    Two traits that sum up inept inbred Republican leadership of the state of cold stone faces and goofiness in too many places: legislative cheating made easy and most important undetectable.

    November might be a good time for Independents and Indians to change the course of history of the: Inept. Inbred. Republican leadership. Maybe with leadership change, don’t repeat History can be taught in schools.

  11. Mark Anderson 2022-10-19 13:35

    Well again, Dylan “borrowed” from all and he did fine.

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