A couple of days ago, news broke on multiple websites about an incident at Texas A&M University-Commerce in which one of its professors suspected several of his students of using an AI text generator to cheat on writing assignments.

In short, agricultural sciences professor Dr. Jared Mumm pasted what his students had written into ChatGPT – a highly advanced AI model designed to generate human-like text based on the input it receives – to see if the bot identified the text as containing “characteristics that are consistent with AI-generated content (ChatGPT’s words).” Then, those students whose papers were identified by ChatGPT as having those "telltale signs" received grades of zero for those assignments, Mumm explained in a message to students.

Soon after, some of Mumm’s students took to Reddit (an online discussion platform) about their predicament and others chimed in about how, due to ChatGPT’s facility at imitating human writing, it is prone to identifying a significant amount of human-written text as being “AI-generated,” even if it wasn’t.

To demonstrate this point about ChatGPT’s fallibility, one Redditor (who uses the screen name Delicious_Village112) inputted the abstract from one of Mumm’s own scholarly writings about pig farming and ChatGPT identified it as being likely “AI-generated.”

On Wednesday, Texas A&M-Commerce sent out a press release regarding the incident, saying that “no students failed the class or were barred from graduating because of this issue.” The release also explained that Mumm is currently “working individually with students regarding their last written assignments” and that “some students received a temporary grade of 'X'—which indicates 'incomplete'—to allow the professor and students time to determine whether AI was used to write their assignments and, if so, at what level.”

So far, several of the students have been exonerated (many of whom provided timestamps from Google Docs demonstrating that they did not use ChatGPT to generate the text). However, at least one student has admitted to using ChatGPT at some point during the course, and others have opted to do a make-up writing assignment, the university explained.

A&M-Commerce is also in the process of “developing policies to address the use or misuse of AI technology in the classroom” and “working to adopt AI detection tools and other resources to manage the intersection of AI technology and higher education.”

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