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AI January 17, 2023

ChatGPT Cheating Panic Is Unwarranted Argues University Professor

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Could A ChatGPT-Enhanced Bing Kill Google?

The threat of students using ChatGPT to write essays and cheat on coursework assignments is overblown according to level-headed educators.

Danny Oppenheimer, professor of psychology and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, is among the academics who believe that the panic surrounding chatbots such as ChatGPT, Claude, and YouChat is not entirely warranted.

According to Oppenheimer the concerns of other academics, “are neglecting a key fact: we’ve never been able to ensure academic integrity.”

Hysteria on ChatGPT

Since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT hysteria has been mounting on the potential impacts of ‘AI plagiarism,’ and the ability of schools, colleges and universities to deal with the threat.

The prevailing narrative is one of fear, as educators grapple with the reality of AI-generated content. The threat even prompted one Standford Univesity student to create GTPZero, an AI designed to detect the handiwork of other chatbots. 

Although such tools may prove useful in future, questions remain about their efficacy and reliability today. Educators cannot currently rely on AI to detect AI. 

Writing in Times Higher Education professor Oppenheimer explained why AI intervention isn’t the existential threat it may first appear to be. 

As Oppenheimer said on Tuesday, “students could always hire others to take remote exams for them. Fraternities and sororities in the US have exam banks and answer keys for previous years’ exams stretching back decades, allowing for easy cheating on tests set by professors who reuse test questions or use assessment materials from textbook companies. Software that prevents computers accessing the web while students are taking an exam can easily be thwarted with a second computer, tablet or phone.” 

As Oppenheimer sees it chatbots do make cheating easier, but they don’t significantly change the academic landscape. The problem chatbots pose is nothing new.

Mitigating the risks

A body of research indicates that the best way to reduce cheating is to reduce the motivational factors that lead to cheating. Oppenheimer cites a study by Donald McCabe which found that the most important determining factor for whether cheating occured, was students’ perception of whether other students were cheating.

Follow up investigations demonstrated that properly conveying the importance of academic integrity helped to curb dishonesty in the educational process. 

“The best ways of thwarting cheating have never been focused on policing and enforcement; they have been about integrity training, creating a healthy campus culture and reducing incentives to cheat,” adds Oppenheimer.

“There is no need to panic about ChatGPT; instead we can use this as an opportunity to modernise our thinking about academic integrity and ensure we’re using best practices in combating dishonesty in the classroom.”

Schools in New York City have taken a less high-minded approach by blocking access to the software entirely, but as Oppenheimer points out a second computer or phone can circumvent such bans.

The dangers of a knee-jerk response

Academic concerns about ChatGPT may have unintended negative consequences in the longer term.

To curb the threat of AI usage staff at the computer science department of Univesity College London altered its assessment model. Where students have previously had the option of an essay-based of skills-based assessment, the essay option no longer exists.

According to Nancy Gleason, director of the Hilary Ballon Center for Teaching and Learning at NYU Abu Dhabi, this sort of change is not always helpful.

“There is a risk that efforts to design more inclusive, flexible authentic assessments could be rolled back as part of knee-jerk administrative responses to the use of this software by students,” said Gleason in December shortly after ChatGPT launched. “If universities want to stay true to their missions of equity, inclusion and access, then we need to keep and develop these alternative assessments.”

Gleason believes that educators should now seek to incorporate chatbots into the assessment process since this generation of students is far more likely to incorporate AI assistants in their professional careers anyway.

Putting the genie back in the bottle is not an option as far as Gleason is concerned. The goal now is to rethink what the future workplace will look like and to equip students to survive in this brave new chatbot world.

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Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney.

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ChatGPT Makes History With Fastest 100M Users as StackOverflow Stumbles

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ChatGPT Makes History With Fastest 100M Users as StackOverflow Stumbles

ChatGPT, the popular chatbot from OpenAI, is now the fastest growing Internet application in history with a record 100 million monthly active users in January, according to a new report by Swiss investment bank UBS.

This comes as web traffic at developer knowledge-sharing platform StackOverflow slumped 11.5% to 247 million since the launch of ChatGPT. OpenAI, a private company backed by Microsoft Corp., launched ChatGPT as a free web interface in late November.

Also read: OpenAI Develops Tool to Spot AI-Written Texts

The AI-powered chatbot became incredibly popular with users thanks to its ability to perform a variety of tasks within seconds. In the U.S. tech hub of Silicon Valley, the conversation tool has virtually sparked off an artificial intelligence (AI) ‘arms race.’

13M ChatGPT users per day

Citing data from analytics firm Similarweb, UBS said in its report that the number of people using ChatGPT averaged about 13 million per day in January – double the number recorded in December. These are all distinct individuals, or unique users, it stated.

“In 20 years following the internet space, we cannot recall a faster ramp in a consumer internet app,” UBS analysts noted, according to Reuters.

By comparison, TikTok took about nine months after its global launch to get to 100 million users and Meta’s Instagram two and half years.

ChatGPT is a large language model developed by OpenAI. It has been trained on a diverse range of internet text to generate human-like responses to user prompts. The tool is based on OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 language technology, an upgrade of the GPT-3 model released in 2020.

The chatbot was trained with a lot of data, from books and articles to conversations. It can understand a variety of topics and contexts, and can be fine-tuned for multiple language tasks such as question answering, language translation, and text summarization.

ChatGPT accumulated more than one million users within its first week. The bot has transformed several industries since it was released just over two months ago. It can write complex essays, poetry, code and even pass MBA exams at the Wharton School of Business.

While ChatGPT is popular with some, others are concerned about the impact it will have on education and other industries. Gmail creator Paul Buchheit said recently ChatGPT-like tech will destroy Google’s $149 billion search engine business and dominance in two years.

StackOverflow traffic declines

Meanwhile, the rise of ChatGPT has started to affect rival StackOverflow, the Naspers-owned question and answer website for professional and enthusiast programmers.

According to Similarweb, the number of people visiting the StackOverflow website fell 11.5% just weeks after the launch of ChatGPT. On average, users dropped from almost 279 million in November 2022 to 247.4 million by the end of December 2022.

StackOverflow dropped 30 positions in the “Programming and Developer Software” websites category, falling from the 202nd position in October 2022 to 229th by the end of December 2022. It is the company’s lowest ranking in that category since October 2019, the data says.

The website serves as a platform for users to ask and answer questions, and, through membership and active participation, to vote questions and answers up or down similar to Reddit. They can also edit questions and answers in a fashion similar to a Wiki.

In December, StackOverflow banned the use of answers generated using ChatGPT, citing concerns about the accuracy of such responses.

“…because the average rate of getting correct answers from ChatGPT is too low, the posting of answers created by ChatGPT is substantially harmful to the site and to users who are asking or looking for correct answers,” the company said in a statement.

As MetaNews previously reported, the computational resources required to run ChatGPT over large scales are very costly. OpenAI has now launched a paid subscription service known as ChatGPT Plus for $20 per month, hoping that will help to cover costs.

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Microsoft Warns Employees Not to Share Sensitive Data with ChatGPT

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Microsoft Warns Employees Not to Share Sensitive Data with ChatGPT

Microsoft has warned its employees not to share sensitive data with an artificially intelligent (AI) chatbot, ChatGPT from OpenAI. Employees of American multinational tech giants had asked in an internal forum whether ChatGPT or any other AI tools from OpenAI were appropriate to use at their work, Business Insider reported.

Also read: 30% of College Students Use ChatGPT

In response to that inquiry, a senior engineer from Microsoft’s CTO office allowed to use ChatGPT but couldn’t share confidential information with the AI chatbot.

“Please don’t send sensitive data to an OpenAI endpoint, as they may use it for training future models,” the senior engineer wrote in an internal post, per Insider.

ChatGPT, here only for two months, is already raising concerns in the academic sector. Microsoft has become a partner of OpenAI, the parent company of ChatGPT, and has confirmed an investment of ten billion dollars.

Microsoft is planning to integrate OpenAI’s technology into its products, including the Bing search engine and other software, to enhance their capabilities, as reported previously.

The major concern of Microsoft regarding “sensitive information” may include sharing internal software code and seeking checks and advice from the chatbot.

Amazon’s Same Concern

ChatGPT has continuously made headlines since its launch last November but has also faced bans, especially in the academic sector as it became the cheating partner for students’ schoolwork. Recently, the tech giants have also raised their concerns over its use.

Amazon warned its employees to beware of ChatGPT last week, as reported by Insider. Insider claims that an Amazon lawyer has urged employees not to share code with ChatGPT via an internal communication form.

“This is important because your inputs may be used as training data for a further iteration of ChatGPT, and we wouldn’t want its output to include or resemble our confidential information (and I’ve already seen instances where its output closely matches existing material),” the lawyer wrote.

The lawyer placed more emphasis on requesting that employees not share “any Amazon confidential information” (including Amazon code they are working on) with ChatGPT via Slack.

Personal Data Concern

As concerns about data privacy grow among large corporations, an OpenAI representative has directed questions about the company’s data and privacy policy to ChatGPT’s FAQ page. The terms of service of OpenAI grant the company the right to use all input and output generated by ChatGPT users, with the stipulation that personally identifiable information (PII) is removed from the used data.

However, it’s quite impossible for OpenAI to identify and remove all the personal information from the data provided to ChatGPT, says Emily Bender, who teaches computational linguistics at the University of Washington.

“OpenAI is far from transparent about how they use the data, but if it’s being folded into training data, I would expect corporations to wonder: After a few months of widespread use of ChatGPT, will it become possible to extract private corporate information with cleverly crafted prompts?” said Bender.

Vincent Conitzer, a computer science professor and director of an AI lab at Carnegie Mellon University, said, “All of us together are going to have to figure out what should be expected of everyone in these situations. Is the responsibility on employees to not share sensitive information, or is the responsibility on OpenAI to use information carefully, or some combination?”

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Gmail Creator Says AI Will Replace Search Engines Like Google in 2 Years

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Gmail Creator Says AI Will Replace Search Engines Like Google in 2 Years

Paul Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, said artificial intelligence (AI) will replace search engines such as Google in two years.

“My prediction is that AI (not necessarily ChatGPT) will replace search, maybe within the next two years (current AI not yet good enough),” Buchheit tweeted on Feb. 1.

Google facing ‘total disruption’

The software engineer said this as a form of clarification on an earlier statement he made regarding ChatGPT, the widely popular OpenAI bot. He believes that his comments were taken out of context and “sensationalized” by the media.

Also read: AI Could Kill Everyone, Researchers Warn MPs

However, the argument remains fundamentally the same in that Paul Buchheit’s prediction will still impact his former employer. Google is already reacting to the threat with plans to release 20 new AI related products to improve search this year, according to reports.

In his original comments from early December, Buchheit stated: “Google may be only a year or two away from total disruption. AI will eliminate the search engine result page, which is where they make most of their money,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Even if they catch up on AI, they can’t fully deploy it without destroying the most valuable part of their business.”

Google gets much of its revenue from search through online advertisements. The tech giant, which dominates the search business, charges advertisers a fee for ad placements that sit next to the search results. This improves the chances of ads being seen by consumers.

In 2021, Google reported revenues rose 41% to $258 billion from a year ago, its biggest to date. Ads made up 81% of total revenues that year. However, Google is grappling with a slowdown in online ad spending amid mounting antitrust lawsuits.

According to market research firm Insider Intelligence, the company’s share of total online advertising income in the U.S. fell from 37% in 2016 to 29% in 2022. Alphabet-owned Google controls up to 90% of the search business’ total market share.

Killing Web search ChatGPT way

Culture is now a sanctuary in this posthuman future. But the upcoming dominance of AI in search has even the most cultured corporate organizations in panic, and none more so than Google. OpenAI’s buzzy chatbot ChatGPT has been all the rage since its launch in November.

It can write complex essays, poetry, code and even pass MBA exams at the Wharton School of Business. OpenAI has also received a reported $10 billion cash boost from Microsoft, which is looking to add the chatbot’s abilities into its own search engine.

ChatGPT is shaking things up. It has spawned an AI arms race of sorts in Sillicon Valley. As Paul Buchheit said, tech like AI can remove the need for search engine result pages. He elaborates on how search businesses like Google could become useless, in exactly the same way that the company “killed” pre-internet business The Yellow Pages.

“The way I imagine this happening is that the URL/Search bar of the browser gets replaced with AI that autocompletes my thought/question as I type it while also providing the best answer (which may be a link to a website or product),” he explained.

“The old search engine backend will be used by the AI to gather relevant information and links, which will then be summarized for the user. It’s like asking a professional human researcher to do the work, except the AI will instantly do what would take many minutes for a human.”

Google joins AI race

The new artificial intelligence technology has been a wake up call for Google. CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly declared a “code red”, steamrolling over the company’s existing plans to kickstart AI development, The New York Times reports.

Google is now targeting to release around 20 new products and “demonstrate a version of its search engine with chatbot features this year,” it said, quoting sources with knowledge of the plans.

One of these projects is “Apprentice Bard,” as per a CNBC report. Apprentice Bard is a chatbot that is able to provide responses to questions asked using natural language. It uses Google’s conversation technology called Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA). The model is similar to the GPT language model utilized by ChatGPT .

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