In November 2022, the internet was still processing the DALL-E controversy and accusations of plagiarism from the artistic community when the team behind OpenAI dropped their latest creation: ChatGPT. It answers your questions. It codes. It writes music. It imitates the poetry of every known author. And it does your homework. At least, students tried to use ChatGPT to cheat with their assignments – because of course they did.
So, is ChatGPT a good AI essay writer? How good? On par or even better than a human essay writer? Can you really just generate free essays that can’t be traced instead of spending hours writing them? Here is what I can tell based on my experience with AI tools.
AI Can Convincingly Fake Essays, But Not Write Good Ones
When more advanced and widely available ChatGPT arrived on the scene, it poured oil on the fire that had been smoldering somewhere in the background for quite some time. At least for as long as automated writing tools like Simply AI, Shortly AI, Jaspr, and Playground have been around.
ChatGPT’s interactive dialog that saves your questions and responds to feedback makes the experience mesmerizing. It creates the illusion of communicating with a sentient being who learns and understands you. Although its logic isn’t exactly human, you can get from it anything you want, as long as you find the right way to describe it. It’s like making a genie to grant your wish – only you have unlimited wishes!
Sounds too good to be true? Well, that’s because it is. GhatGPT isn’t a genie from Arabian Nights – more like the Wizard of Oz. The truth behind all the hype is that AI can imitate but not create. It cannot analyze and offer its opinion on the matter because it doesn’t think – it’s not really intelligent. It’s like a predictive text on your iPhone, but on steroids: lots of data and powerful computing capabilities. It doesn’t work for essays requiring critical thinking, comparison, and creative problem-solving.
Okay, so how about the more straightforward tasks? Can it help you with boring essays that require recounting well-known facts? Here AI has limited success. It can create palatable texts that might look human – at first glance. Still, when you read them closely, the lack of coherency and somewhat choppy flow give it away. And let me tell you, people learn faster than machines – we are nature’s professional learners. Teachers will start spotting AI-generated answers even more quickly than the dedicated tools for this will become widely popular. My guess is that graders will only turn to automated checks following their gut feeling – to confirm suspicions they already have.
What is Wrong with Every Known Essay Writer AI
Well, what if you don’t need it to be brilliant? Forget an A. How about a B or a C? Can you conjure up an okay essay just to hand something in when you forget about the deadline? You can, but it doesn’t mean you should. And here is why.
It can be detected
AI-generated papers are indeed getting “clear” from the majority of plagiarism-detecting tools because they deftly juggle the words to feign originality. They also retain the natural structure of human speech and mostly avoid lexical atrocities that content spinners spit out. AI-generated text is harder to detect than spun text or plagiarized passages. Harder – but not impossible. Tools that tell even the best AI essay writer from a human creator exist and proliferate just as fast as AIs. Google is one of the players in this field, so rest assured widely accessible free solutions will be around in no time.
It fakes facts
Although ChatGPT is good at retrieving information from open sources like Wikipedia articles, blogs, and online journals, it cannot tell the truth from fiction, let alone verify the source’s credibility. Your AI that writes essays is the same AI that writes Beatles-styled song lyrics and fairy tales. It is allowed to improvise. Invent. Make up. Fake. Studies, statistics, and quotes included. So even if it gives you a list of references to back up its arguments, you cannot be sure they are real. Made-up evidence will land you in hot water faster than plagiarized content, so beware of using AI for anything academic.
Modern AI paper writer tools are more efficient than previous generations of language-processing algorithms. As a rule, they don’t stray away from the topic and don’t go down the rabbit hole like earlier models used to. However, the longer the text, the more they struggle with a coherent structure and logical link between paragraphs. When forced to produce a longer text on the same topic, AI starts to regurgitate the same statements in different words, over and over, like a serpent biting its own tail.
It struggles with consistency
AI tools tend to become growingly inconsistent with larger texts. As an experiment, I used an AI essay generator to create a text about the benefits of AI assistance in writing. It returned a chirpy copy that used “Jasper” interchangeably with “Jarvis” (the former name of the same AI tool). Moreover, as synonyms for “AI writing assistance” it used “our experts” (probably taken from an essay writing service website like ours) and “our freelancers” (apparently borrowed from freelancing platforms like Fiverr). AI didn’t understand the difference between these three very different sources of writing assistance. Nor did it pick up on the time relevance. For the same reason, you can get phrases like “earlier this year” describing events from decades ago or “in this country” while relating Canadian or Indian realities in the text that should have dealt with USA-specific issues.
It still needs your input
First of all, AI needs quality examples to spit out its “replica” text. It cannot create new information from analysis and critical thinking – only emulate what it has already seen. So whatever your topic is, AI can only emulate something that already exists and is available on the internet. If you don’t feed it examples of what you need along with exact instructions, the result will be readable – and even human-like – but irrelevant.
Also, due to the problems referenced earlier, an AI-generated essay needs close reading and laborious editing to seem real, let alone original, perceptive, and A-worthy. The time you spend on it makes it too much work for the supposedly effortless bending of rules. You might as well write that essay yourself.
Can AI Essay Writer Free You from Some Academic Routine?
Does it mean that AI tools are useless? Of course not! They will successfully fulfill their intended purpose: generating product descriptions for online stores, giving you the precise weather forecast for your location in an entertaining form of your choice, writing silly rhymes for your Valentine cards, etc.
As for academia, AI’s primary purpose is research assistance. It’s like Google 2.0 that considers your previous queries and actually understands what you need to find, summarizes texts, and gives you the gist of what that long study is all about – which is not so shabby, if you think of it.
It also has a good potential for editing and giving personalized advice on style and word usage – not unlike Grammarly and Hemingway. However, I doubt it will free you from reading, writing, and actually thinking.
Moreover, I suspect ChatGPT won’t be free forever. This is purely my conjecture, but I think it’s the most plausible scenario. You see, the fundamental difficulty in developing any AI product is training. Feeding tons of data into it isn’t nearly enough. Remember those trippy neural-network “recognized” images with eyes everywhere? That’s what happens. To make AI work, you need to give it ongoing feedback to inform and guide future choices that AI makes. Right now, many AI tools are in open access because the creators of ChatGPT and the ilk are using crowd-sourcing to hone their AI tools’ accuracy with feedback from millions of users. When (and if) it becomes really good at writing, it’s definitely going to be a paid service with regulated access to particular templates and styles.
So have fun with it while you still can. Just don’t trust it to write your essays – not the important ones, anyway.