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Is AI plagiarism?

A few days ago, I joined a very interesting discussion on LinkedIn about the fact that some schools have banished (and even use tools to detect the use of) artificial intelligence, on the grounds that it is plagiarism.

This got me thinking, and I ended up reading a very interesting The New Yorker review ( of a book on copyright that has just come out (Who Owns This Sentence?: A History of Copyrights and Wrongs, by David Bellos and Alexandre Montagu).

The "learning" process of artificial intelligence tools, and more specifically large language models, is not very different from our own: they use their reading references (like us) to create and modify what has been absorbed, transforming it into new ideas. What may bother us so much is that tools like ChatGPT and Claude do this process (reading > processing > generating ideas) much more consistently and efficiently than we can.

In education, AI has the potential to personalize and enhance the learning experience. But teachers and institutions need to be aware of intellectual property issues in this new territory.

To me, the best part of the article is

"Some people may say that AI is robbing the public domain. But AI is only doing what I do when I write a poem. It is reviewing all the poems it has encountered and using them to make something new. AI just "remembers" far more poems than I can, and it makes new poems much faster than I ever could. I don't need permission to read those older poems. Why should ChatGPT? Are we penalizing a chatbot for doing what all human beings do just because it does so more efficiently? If the results are banal, so are most poems. God knows mine are."

On the one hand, AI can help students and teachers generate content more quickly and efficiently. On the other, its vast "knowledge" may derive from unauthorized appropriation of others' intellectual property.

Ideally, the parties will seek solutions with licenses and ethical limits. But the legal vacuum and financial interests make the future uncertain. While the courts debate, educators should establish guidelines for the responsible use of AI, considering academic integrity and the spirit of "fair use" of original works.

Technology itself is neither good nor bad. It is up to us to shape it for the greater good. AI has the potential to catalyze advances in human learning. However, without ethical oversight, it can also erode fundamental knowledge values such as originality and crediting others' ideas.

Quality education requires conscious and critical use of AI, maximizing its benefits and mitigating risks. This will be one of the major challenges for educators and regulators in the coming years.

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