Artificial intelligence
Representative Image Kacper Pempel/Reuters

In a shocking incident reported from the US, a professor withheld the grades of an entire class because some of the students had reportedly cheated on their final assignments with the help of ChatGPT.

The incident occurred at the US-based Texas A&M University after Dr. Jared Mumm, a campus rodeo instructor and agricultural course instructor, emailed his students on Monday informing them of their grades.

He ran all of their papers through ChatGPT and asked if the AI chatbot wrote the essays. He gave them an incomplete grade X.

"The professor elected not to grade them until today, (graduation was yesterday), so now the university is withholding an entire class's diplomas after they walked the stage," per a Reddit post. However, the Reddit user later clarified: " It was initially thought the entire class's diplomas were on hold, but it was actually a little over half of the class," which had a total of 20 students.

A copy of the professor's email to students also went viral on social media. It read: "I copy and paste your responses in (ChatGPT) and (it) will tell me if the program generated the content."

"The final grade for the course is due today at 5 p.m. I will be giving everyone in this course an 'X,' indicating incomplete."

He added: "I will not grade chat Gpt s***. I have to gauge what you are learning, not a computer." Several users later pointed out that ChatGPT could have falsely told him that the essays the students submitted were written by a computer.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the professor later gave students a second chance to submit another assignment. A statement by the university addressing the issue later revealed that no student failed the class or was barred from graduating because of this issue.

The university administration also claimed that they are working out a mechanism to address such cases. "University officials are investigating the incident and developing policies to address the use or misuse of AI technology in the classroom," it read.

"They are also working to adopt AI detection tools and other resources to manage the intersection of AI technology and higher education. The use of AI in coursework is a rapidly changing issue that confronts all learning institutions," it continued.

OpenAI's ChatGPT has taken the tech realm by storm, with experts expressing apprehensions about its potential misuse.

AI has already ushered in several changes in industries such as travel and tourism. People can now book flights, restaurants, and hotels with the help of these chatbots. These apps work as virtual assistants and have replaced travel agents. Some believe that these apps can be of great importance in improving access to education and learning.

According to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, generative AI models, including ChatGPT, will soon be able to help children learn to read and improve their grades. A CNN report claims ChatGPT passed a graduate exam in law and business earlier this year.

There is a possibility that virtual teachers and AI chatbots will become important tools for students. However, some key figures including Twitter CEO Elon Musk believe that AI poses a threat to humanity and that we need to tread with caution.

Some people are concerned about the AI tutors being used to monitor or even control a student's behaviour. Also, AI-backed tutors could promote biases and stereotypes. Similarly, AI could influence the job market by replacing human teachers. However, these concerns about AI in education can be addressed by developing ethical guidelines and regulations.

Moreover, AI developers can collaborate with policymakers and educators to ensure the safe and effective use of AI. It is equally important to involve students and their parents in the development and use of AI-powered tutors.