The summer is over, schools are back, and the data is in: ChatGPT is mainly a tool for cheating on homework.

ChatGPT in classroom

OpenAI has offered teachers a guide on how to use ChatGPT in the classroom as the back-to-school season begins.LAW Ho Ming/Getty Images

  • When the summer began, ChatGPT traffic suddenly fell.

  • One theory was that students didn’t need the AI tool anymore.

  • Now that school is back, traffic has recovered, confirming the theory.

Earlier this year, ChatGPT usage suddenly fell.

ChatGPT was supposed to be the fastest-growing tech product in history, so this reversal got the technosphere theorizing as to why the chatbot wasn’t so hot anymore.

One hypothesis stood out: Millions of students went on summer break, so they didn’t need ChatGPT to cheat — er, I mean research.

The summer is over now, school is back in session, and the data confirms this theory.

Similarweb tracks weekly visits to OpenAI’s ChatGPT website and traffic is up strongly since schools reopened.

Then there’s the amusing comparison with interest in Minecraft, a popular video game that kids love to play when they’re not using ChatGPT to cheat on their homework.

François Chollet, an AI expert at Google DeepMind, pointed this out recently. Back when summer began, online search interest in Minecraft jumped, while ChatGPT interest declined. Now school is back, the trends have reversed.

This may not be too worrying for OpenAI. Students return to school in the fall and log back on to have ChatGPT write their essays and generally do thinking for them. Usage recovers, and the generative-AI rocket ship resumes its upward trajectory to infinity and beyond.

The other interpretation

However, if usage is only recovering because students are back, that may be a bad sign because it suggests there’s a limited range of use cases for ChatGPT and other AI-powered chatbots.

Mark Shmulik, a top internet analyst at Bernstein, made this point at the start of the summer, when usage fell.

“If it’s school kids, that’s a real yellow-red flag on the size of the prize,” he told me back in July. “This idea that if the ChatGPT drop-off is due to students on summer break, that implies a narrower audience and fewer use cases.”

In other words, if a big part of ChatGPT growth is driven by cheating students, this means the technology, or at least the chatbot format, may not be the dominant computing platform of the future.

Shakespeare = AI

I asked OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, about all this on Tuesday. The company didn’t respond immediately.

OpenAI did release this guide for teachers at the end of August, which suggests ways to use ChatGPT in the classroom, including prompts and lesson plans.

It also published this FAQ for teachers, which includes some worrying answers.

The first, and most important, question is whether OpenAI can help teachers spot if homework has been done by ChatGPT or another AI model, rather than students.

“In short, no,” the company wrote. “While some (including OpenAI) have released tools that purport to detect AI-generated content, none of these have proven to reliably distinguish between AI-generated and human-generated content.”

In fact, these tools sometimes suggest that human-written content was generated by AI, including Shakespeare and The Declaration of Independence.

Good luck with the new school year teachers!

Read the original article on Business Insider

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