ChatGPT poses threats while offering benefits


Canva by Clare Sheehan.

This previously ran in our April 2023 print issue.

When scientists of the 20th century looked toward the future, they thought they would see self-driving cars or robot dogs, and actually, they were pretty spot on, thanks to Elon Musk and the U.S. military. 

What they did not predict was an AI website that students would use to write their essays. 

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence software developed by company OpenAI. It can take essentially any information found on the internet and summarize it, but what makes it different is how well-constructed the information it provides is. 

When I initially heard about students using ChatGPT for writing assignments, I was surprised. I didn’t think AI had the capability to put something together so intricately, but I was wrong.

With my personal email, I created a ChatGPT account to ask some questions. First, I started off with simple ones — Why is the sky blue? What color is grass? Give me the lyrics to Nicki Minaj’s “Superbass.” 

After it gave completely correct responses, I tried a few more trickier questions — What caused the Russian Revolution? What can an electroencephalogram detect? Write me a letter in Bulgarian.

To my surprise, ChatGPT gave near perfect responses that were eloquent and in great detail.

Now it all makes sense; ChatGPT is every lazy student’s answer to writing an essay or plugging in math problems. Or is it? 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand. I mean, why would anyone want to write about the incredible strength and brutality of the Mongol warriors when they can watch Real Housewives of New Jersey instead? 

Plus, ChatGPT isn’t all bad. Students can use it to summarize a complex topic to have a better understanding of it, or have the site explain how to solve a math problem. 

If used correctly, ChatGPT could be a great study tool to read and review material before a test. 

AI seems great, right? Why should we have to keep writing essays when it could be done for us in a matter of seconds?

The simple answer is because it’s wrong. While it may not be the same as plagiarizing the work of a real human, using AI generated responses instead of writing an original essay only benefits your grade if either the teacher doesn’t catch you or you can somehow use it during a timed write or a final, which is unlikely.

Academic dishonesty carries serious consequences, something we’ve forgotten about since we became used to asking friends for answers during the pandemic, but we’re back at school and fully in-person now. 

According to the East Penn Code of Conduct, a first offense of plagiarism includes, “no credit given for document presented, extended detention,” and for a second offense, “two extended detentions and no credit given for the document presented.” 

Emmaus, what would you rather do? Spend some time working on an assignment and getting credit for it, or getting one or more extended detentions and no credit at all? 

This is not a student-exclusive issue either. 

As futuristic and dystopian as it sounds, teachers should start checking assignments for AI-generated work as it’s becoming more popular and readily available to students. 

ChatGPT is not blocked on school computers and is fully accessible inside  and outside of school. 

While Schoology has no AI checking technology, Google Classroom provides “originality reports” which can detect plagiarism from an article or AI in a matter of seconds. 

After a while, teachers know how you write, too. It’s not hard to tell when it isn’t your own work. 

It’s unfair to give one student a 10/10 on their completely AI-written assignment and another student a 7/10 for their original work. 

Some of us work hard to write something for a class; don’t be the person who brags about getting a great grade on a DBQ when the entire paper is unoriginal. Not only is it unfair, but it’s obnoxious. 

Writing is difficult. For the longest time, I have loved writing, and I still do, but just because I like it doesn’t mean it’s always easy or always perfect. 

Personally though, I’d rather get a B on an essay that I wrote by myself than an A for something phony. 

We’re getting down to the wire in the school year, and I think I speak for the whole student body when saying I’m ready for summer, but I refuse to turn in a plagiarized paper, and you should too. Summer is right around the corner. We have plenty of sunny days to go outside or stay in and be lazy, but they aren’t quite here yet. 

Be original, be creative, and ask for help on an assignment if you need it. Don’t be the person who gets a detention and a zero because of AI. Detention for plagiarism doesn’t look too appealing.