My students are using AI to cheat. Here’s why it’s a teachable moment
One of the reasons so many people suddenly care about artificial intelligence is that we love panicking about things we don’t understand. Misunderstanding allows us to project spectacular dangers on to the future. Many of the very people responsible for developing these models (who have enriched themselves) warn us about artificial intelligence systems achieving some sort of sentience and taking control of important areas of life. Others warn of massive job displacement from these systems. All of these predictions assume that the commercial deployment of artificial intelligence actually would work as designed. Fortunately, most things don’t. That does not mean we should ignore present and serious dangers of poorly designed and deployed systems. For years predictive modeling has distorted police work and sentencing procedures in American criminal justice, surveilling and punishing Black people disproportionately. Machine learning systems are at work in insurance and health care, mostly without transparency, accountability, oversight or regulation. We are committing two grave errors at the same time. We are hiding from and eluding artificial intelligence because it seems too mysterious and complicated, rendering the current, harmful uses of it invisible and undiscussed. And we are fretting about future worst-case scenarios that resemble the movie The Matrix more than any world we would actually create for ourselves. Both of these habits allow the companies that irresponsibly deploy these systems to exploit us. We can do better. I will do my part by teaching better in the future, but not by ignoring these systems and their presence in our lives.