ChatGPT and plagiarism:  an interview with Professor Albrecht-Crane

Reading Time: 2 minutes Professor Christa Albrecht-Crane is concerned with ChatGPT’s generated “bulls—.” Here’s what you need to know about predictive text programs.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

ChatGPT is an advanced language model developed by OpenAI, capable of generating human-like responses to text inputs. It has the potential to revolutionize college education by augmenting traditional classroom instruction with personalized and interactive learning experiences. As a language model, it can assist students with coursework and answer their questions in real-time, helping to create more effective and efficient learning outcomes. However, it is important to view ChatGPT as a tool to complement human instructors, rather than a replacement, and to acknowledge the value of a traditional college education.

The first paragraph of this article was generated by ChatGPT, with no human alterations or edits. The technology is here — now — and it’s time that students and professors develop the expertise necessary to navigate it.

Professor Christa Albrecht-Crane of UVU’s English department recognizes the inevitability of predictive text programs like ChatGPT in the classroom and elsewhere. To her, predictive text programs are as exciting as they are terrifying.

“For simple tasks, it has great positive potential. It can be a great generator of [various] ideas,” Albrecht-Crane says regarding the role of ChatGPT in brainstorming, inventing and planning. “When you ask it anything deeper . . . it just can’t do the job very well because it’s not intelligent.”

While ChatGPT and other programs utilizing generative and predictive text are often referred to as being artificially intelligent, Albrecht-Crane stresses the program’s lack of critical thinking — “It’s predictive text. It’s statistically generated tokens (or words) that don’t mean anything to the machine,” a program completely lacking the ability to synthesize and organically create. “The term ‘AI’ seduces us into thinking that ChatGPT is intelligent . . . it’s so seductive, especially in the hands of an amateur, it’s uncontrollable. It generates bulls—.”

Programs like ChatGPT are already being used in the classroom by students and professors alike. With generative text becoming so accessible and seductive, concern regarding plagiarism mounts. “ChatGPT would be a perfect plagiarism tool — it’s only a plagiarism tool!” Albrecht-Crane exclaims. “[Predictive text] is not unique in the sense of content or new information . . . everything is uniquely plagiarized on the spot.”

According to Professor Albrecht-Crane, the resulting responsibility of this technological advancement falls largely on the shoulders of educators. “Our call-to-action as professors is: how do we reach and motivate students to want to learn, not to just earn a grade.” She explains that “ChatGPT is going to make it way easier to get a grade” and that students and professors ought to genuinely reassess their educational intentions.

Despite the transformative and potentially damaging implications, ChatGPT brings to the educational table, Albrecht-Crane insists that the program ought not be demonized. She even says, “I think we should require that students use ChatGPT,” as a way of familiarizing students with the program’s weaknesses and the expertise required to use predictive text responsibly and ethically.

“All of us need to learn about this technology — yes, it does apply to us. It is here to stay.”

Interested in learning more about AI? Check out The Review’s Arts & Culture podcast The Cultured Wolverine’s latest episode here.