Cheating with Artificial Intelligence – Addressing The Consequences

With the availability of tools such as ChatGPT, more students may be tempted to use artificial intelligence (AI) to complete their academic assignments or exams. While this may seem like a quick and easy solution, using AI for academic work raises ethical questions and can have serious consequences. As educators, we need to be aware about how quickly AI writing solutions are developing and how powerful these are becoming. We have to acknowledge that students will turn to AI for help, just as they may have turned to the contract cheating industry in the past.

When students begin relying on AI to do their academic work, this could undermine the educational process by creating an unfair advantage for those who use it. Using AI for academic work promotes dishonesty within the education system and a sense of entitlement among some students. There may also be access issues if some students can afford to pay for AI technologies and others cannot do so. If students believe they can get away with submitting work done by AI without consequences, they may be more likely to make unethical choices in the future, leading to issues within wider society.

The consequences of using AI for academic work go beyond the individual student and the education system. In certain professions, cheating can have dangerous consequences. For example, a medical student who uses AI to complete their academic assignments and goes on to become a doctor may not have the necessary knowledge and skills to properly diagnose and treat their patients, potentially putting their lives at risk. Similarly, an engineer who uses AI to complete their academic assignments may not have a thorough understanding of structural integrity, potentially leading to faulty design in the buildings and infrastructure they work on.

Using AI for academic work also undermines the value of academic qualifications. Employers may question the authenticity of degrees earned by students who have used AI to complete their coursework, making it more difficult for those students to find job opportunities. Universities may also face damage to their reputations if it becomes known that a significant number of their graduates used AI to complete their academic work.

The question of whether using AI for academic work is actually cheating is a complex one, and opinions on the matter may vary. Some may argue that as long as the student is using their own knowledge and understanding to direct the AI, it is not misconduct. Others may argue that using AI to complete academic work is inherently dishonest and goes against the spirit of education. Regardless of where one falls on this issue, it is clear that using AI for academic work can have serious consequences and raises ethical concerns.

As educators, it is our responsibility to protect the integrity of the education system and promote academic integrity among our students. This includes clearly communicating expectations and consequences, actively seeking to find work completed by AI where this has not been permitted, as well as providing resources and support for students to complete their own work. By doing so, we can help ensure that our students graduate with genuine and valuable qualifications, as well as the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for success in their future careers.

Robot in front of paper, representing artificial intelligence


This post was co-written with ChatGPT, through a series of refinements, prompts and requested edits. I have then edited the post further to better fit into the blog.

Do some of the ideas look familiar? This is because initially I asked for a post on the consequences of contract cheating, before asking ChatGPT to refocus this on AI. It preserved many of the same points, which largely match ones I’ve made in the past. There is a large overlap between the consequences of contract cheating and the consequences of the misuse of AI. The separate question is where acceptable use of AI ends and misuse begins in an educational setting.

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