Plagiarism detector Turnitin is developing a system to spot ChatGPT

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By Emily Hinkley on


Law students beware!

Popular essay plagiarism software Turnitin is working on a new tool to detect if students have used AI bots like ChatGPT.

Turnitin is a plagiarism detection service commonly used by universties, including law schools. Their software produces a percentage score identifying similarities with existing sources.

The recent boom in AI chatbots has triggered the company to start its own AI Innovation Lab in a bid to outsmart the bots and detect the use of AI writing tools.

In a recent YouTube video, Turnitin developer David Adamson demonstrated how the new software will work. After inputing an essay written by ChatGPT and edited by himself, the system calculated that 50% of the essay was produced by AI, even identifying that 22 of the 43 sentences were not of human origin.

While the tool is still in the testing phase the team is hoping it will be ready soon.

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“Our model has been trained specifically on academic writing sourced from a comprehensive database, as opposed to solely publicly available content,” explained Turnitin’s chief product officer, Annie Chechitelli, in a blog post. “As a result, Turnitin is more tuned to finding instances of potential dishonesty in student assignments,”

CEO Chris Caren added that while the company’s current products already offer some level of AI detection, more would be needed in the future. “We will incorporate our latest AI writing detection capabilities — including those that recognize ChatGPT writing — into our in-market products for educator use in 2023,” he said.

The issue of AI-based cheating is a hot topic at the moment, with many universities reassessing their rules concerning assessments. Legal Cheek recently reported concerns from a top barrister that students cheating with ChatGPT could damage degree credibility.

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