(WSPA) – Artificial Intelligence is now at your fingertips like never before.

From ChatGPT to Microsoft’s Bing, to MidJourney or Snapchat’s new “My AI,” the number of interactive AI programs is growing.

With that, the average user is starting to understand the endless possibilities of what AI can do.

Still, along with that comes some serious words of warning.

7NEWS looked into how the technology is already being misused and how it could affect everything from safety online to the job market. 

Upstate professor catches AI plagiarism

Darren Hick, a professor at Furman University has seen firsthand, how the technology comes with some cautionary tales.

“We always thought it was just over the horizon, and always just over the horizon, and last year it arrived, and we weren’t ready for it.”

As an Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Hick was one of the first to catch a new type of plagiarism using AI two weeks after ChatGPT was launched to the public when one of his students turned in a final paper.  

“Normally when a student plagiarizes a paper this is a last-minute panic and so it sort of screams that it has been thrown together in the last second,” according to Hick. “This wasn’t that. This was clean, this was really nicely put together but had all these other factors.  And I had heard about ChatGPT, and it finally dawned on me that maybe this was that.”

That’s when Hick started testing out ChatGPT.

How ChatGPT works

The open-source program interacts a lot like a confident, well-spoken human.  

You can ask it any question like, “Describe AI so a 5-year-old can understand,” and it spits out appropriate answers like: “It’s like having a smart robot that can learn and think like a human.”

No matter how many times you ask the question, the answer is always slightly different, again, just like a human.

You can even ask it to write in different styles from Shakespeare to poetry.

However, with it still in its infancy, ChatGPT is full of inaccuracies.  

When we asked the AI to tell us about Diane Lee from WSPA, it said she is a “former journalist” who may have “left the station.” 

Why AI isn’t nearly as powerful as it could be

Kylan Cleveland, with the IT firm Cyber Solutions in Anderson, is quick to point out that right now programs like ChatGPT don’t scour the web for information, which is why they are not up to date.  

Programs like ChatGPT are only working with what is fed into them and have “limited knowledge… past 2021,” as is stated on ChatGPT’s home page.  

Cleveland embraces the technology but also is leery of the day these programs gain access to up-to-date information.

“When we can get to the point where AI has current data, I think that’s when we should really take a step back and see what type of security measures, we can put in place to prevent it from being almost predictive,” he said.

What jobs are at risk

AI could also pose a major shakeup to the job market, with some experts who study the technology, like Thomas Fellows, predicting many white-collar jobs from accounting to marketing will be displaced.

“If you don’t have a job that has true human judgment and vault, it could be taken away, plain and simple,” Fellows said.

Fellows has worked in software jobs where the main goal was to automate tasks. He believes AI will be akin to what machines have been to some factory jobs.  

The jobs he said are most at risk are:

  • computer coding
  • data analysts
  • media jobs like advertising and some content creation and journalism jobs
  • paralegals and legal assistants
  • market research analysts
  • financial analysts
  • traders
  • graphic designers
  • customer service agents  

Embrace don’t reject

Still, no matter the warnings, educators and businesses alike said not embracing the many benefits of the technology would be like rejecting the internet in the 90s.

AI is a huge time saver, making tasks that used to take hours last only minutes or even seconds.  

“If you’re scared of something then you’re likely more dangerous with it than someone who is educated on it,” according to Cleveland.  

Fellows added, those who don’t embrace the technology, from educators to companies, will lose out on a tool that is changing virtually every industry.

AI detectors

Fortunately, with the development of AI comes AI detectors, which is one way Hick was able to decipher plagiarism.  

Despite a warning in his syllabus this Spring semester, the first case wasn’t the last.    

“I went through exactly the same process. My first thought was not oh well this is ChatGPT, my first thought was well that’s a weird way to put this, and eventually it clicked, Oh, it’s AI again.”

Two students, two semesters, two F’s for the final grade.  

Hick has a warning for all educators, no matter the school, no matter the grade level.  

“If we don’t get used to the way plagiarism looks like now, then more and more of it is going to sneak by.”