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GPTZero, the Kryptonite to ChatGPT: How one Princeton student altered the playing field

With the emergence of artificial intelligence-based technology that has transcended the levels of comprehending humanistic inquiry to its simultaneous effort in saving the countless lives of college students desperately trying to pass their 8 a.m. through auto-generated responses to discussion questions, AI applications such as ChatGPT, a multi-purpose chatbot released by OpenAI back in November, has been on a rampage in today’s current popular headlines.


However, with the arrival of technological assistance, questions have arisen on how influential new artificial intelligence tools may play in the role of both secondary and higher education. 


The increase in students partaking in these services has even resulted in the New York City Department of Education banning the use of ChatGPT for academic purposes with several other school districts following suit.


“While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success," said Jenna Lyle, the New York City education department spokesperson in an interview with Chalkbeat.


In response to the concerns over the improper utilization of ChatGPT and the negative effects it may have on academic institutions, the CEO of ChatGPT, Sam Altman, has addressed the concerns of school administrators but has expressed his personal thoughts on the benefits of his novel advancements to society.


"I have used it to learn things myself and found it much more compelling than other ways I've learned things in the past," said Altman in an interview with StrictlyVC. "I would much rather have ChatGPT teach me about something than go read a textbook."


As the number of users continues to steadily increase with an estimated number of 13 million visitors per day according to UBS, the paranoia among educators has been at an all-time high and the countermeasures to ChatGPT have been limited since its release in November.


Existing platforms such as Turnitin, a commonly used program by teachers and professors, have issued public statements on their efforts to create a solution to the potential crisis and offered sneak-peek previews of the AI-assisted writing detection system.


In a preview of Turnitin’s ChatGPT detection capabilities, AI Scientist, David Adamson, walked his audience through a demonstration of their detection software by inputting an AI-written essay and showcasing what Turnitin was able to catch. 


“Our detector tuned for academic writing is in the works, we hope to share it with [everyone] in some product form soon,” Adamson said. 


However, since the announcement on Jan. 12th, Turnitin has yet to release more information on the progress of their development, leaving the implementation of AI writing, still susceptible to other applications.


This balance of AI technology versus detection suddenly changed when Edward Tian, a 22-year-old Princeton student majoring in computer science and journalism, created an anti-ChatGPT app known as GPTZero which detected if any writing material had AI-generated content involved.


Born in Tokyo and raised between both Beijing and Toronto, Tian, a son of two engineers, fell in love with the possibilities of technology and started to develop an interest in AI technology around the time he entered college.


Immediately after its launch, GPTZero became an international overnight success as Tian recounted the mass amounts of messages, texts, and notifications he received from students, teachers, and principals about his invented application.


What was initially a passion project for the Princeton Senior became a source of stress as Tian mentioned how his campus’ buzz and general excitement for ChatGPT caused him to worry about the responsibility of this newfound tool and he speculated the drastic impact it may have on society. 


"There was so much hype and excitement surrounding ChatGPT, but like with any new technology, we have to adopt it responsibly,” said Tian in an exclusive with South China Morning Post. "I think we're absolutely at an inflection point," 


Fueled by a passion to seek the truth and prevent "AIgiarism" (a term used to describe using AI for homework), Tian spent time working at Princeton’s Natural Language Processing Lab, conducting research on ways to determine if a specific text had any AI-generated writing. 


Relying on a more primitive version of ChatGPT, GPT-3, Tian applied his research and skills from several years of study towards developing a direct counter to ChatGP all while during his winter break from school with his family in Toronto.


Since its release on Jan. 2nd, GPTZero has been offered as a free service for teachers and professors to use while grading assignments making it close to impossible for students to get away with “ChatGPT Plagiarism.” 


Despite being offered by Turnitin and other companies to come and work on the detection system, Tian has remained adamant about keeping this service free primarily for educators and hopes that his contributions add to the maintenance of proper writing.


"Being able to write, or write originally, will still remain an important skill, so [writers] will be even more valuable,” Tian said. "There is something implicitly beautiful in human writing."


Although Tian developed an app to prevent academic dishonesty perpetuated by the spurge of ChatGPT users, Tian recognized how ChatGPT was still a bright sign for the growing future of technology and that it has forever altered the way we incorporate technology into our lives. 


“It’s incredible, but at the same time, it's a technology that’s opening Pandora’s box and we can never put it back,” Tian noted.

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Tags: #technology #computer #gptzero #openai #chatgpt


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