Can Turnitin detect ChatGPT? Here’s what we know.

Turnitin has unveiled software they say can detect ChatGPT. But many Australian universities aren't using it. Here's why.
Can Turnitin detect ChatGPT

Academic integrity company Turnitin has unveiled new software that can identify the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Turnitin says over two million educators will be able to detect AI-generated text in student submissions through the new software.

However, many Australian universities have said they won’t be adopting the new technology yet.

Here’s what you need to know.

How does Turnitin detect ChatGPT?

Turnitin says it uses data that was “collected and verified in [their] controlled lab environment” to detect writing of AI.

It says it will only flag something if they are 98% sure it is written by AI.

It has worked to detect the writing of AI since 2020 – almost two years before ChatGPT was launched.

Universities’ view on ChatGPT

A divide in how Australian universities handle the rise of artificial intelligence tools has emerged.

Some universities believe that AI is an important tool for students to familiarise themselves with before entering the workforce.

Others fear it could compromise academic integrity, and have banned its use. Many universities have changed how they assess students to block AI use. This includes more face-to-face supervision in exams, and increased oral and multi-staged assessments.

Which universities are using it?

The University of Melbourne has confirmed it will adopt the new Turnitin feature.

The University of NSW is also using the new feature to find “suspected unauthorised use of AI in assessments”, but said assessment design was the best way to block irresponsible AI use.

Will universities use Turnitin to detect ChatGPT?

Not all universities will be taking up Turnitin’s new detection technology.

This includes the University of Sydney (USYD), which began rolling out more pen-and-paper exams this year to prevent AI use. USYD said it won’t use Turnitin’s AI detection technology without “time to prepare”, and was “actively reviewing” the feature to see if it would support academic integrity.

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology has opted against using the new feature, telling TDA it wants to “lead the way” in AI innovation, and “not shy away” from the technology.

Melbourne’s Monash University has also decided against using Turnitin’s AI detection software because the technology “is in its infancy”. Their focus is on helping students use generative AI in an ethical, responsible, and effective way for their “current and future careers”.

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