(TMU) — Can AI write your term papers?
It’s an idea many students have probably not yet considered but one that’s been manifested by recent technological advances.
An anonymous grad student known as Tiago claims he used the GPT-2 neural network to compose multiple papers that evaded scrutiny from both his professors and plagiarism detection software. Tiago says he only had to write a single strategic topic sentence and the “transformer” neural network algorithm would fill in the rest.
The idea of neural networks has been around since 1943 and has been applied to fields as diverse as computer vision, speech recognition, machine translation, and medical diagnosis. Originally conceived of as mirroring the interconnected nodes of neurons in the human brain, neural networks are a pillar of technological breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and deep learning.
OpenAI, the AI research organization founded by Elon Musk, has already been experimenting with neural networks for years and used them to develop a new fleet of “language modeling” algorithms, which includes state-of-the-art “zero-shot learning.”
To create their text-generating AI system, GPT-2, researchers originally used data from 8 million posts and upvotes from Reddit as a data aggregator, which created a 40GB data set. They baited their AI system with a prompt for a counter-intuitive thesis argument that recycling is bad for the Earth.
“And it wrote this really competent, really well-reasoned essay,” said David Luan, VP of engineering at the Californian lab. “This was something you could have submitted to the US SAT and get a good score on.”
Tiago claims he got the idea after reading about an algorithmic entry into a climate change essay contest. Inspired, he decided to bypass his business school’s “boring” curriculum and execute a high-tech entrepreneurial sleight-of-hand, tapping the website, “TalkToTransformer.com.”
This online iteration of the GPT-2 network allowed him to author his 3-5 page paper by merely dictating topic sentences to an AI algorithm.
“You couldn’t write an essay on science that could be anywhere near as convincing using the methods that I used,” said Tiago. “I wrote the structure and one sentence per paragraph. All the information that was in that final essay was in that structure, but the sentences were added by GPT-2.
“I did it for two essays in two different courses…I would write the first sentence of the paragraph, let’s say the point of the paragraph is “Starbucks has innovated by raising the quality of its coffee.” I would write a sentence that encompasses the whole point, and then I would feed it to GPT-2, and then I would get a paragraph. I would generate again until I get something that I found more or less believable.”
While seemingly user-friendly, the GPT-2 network is actually more evolved than even the DeepMind AlphaGo program that defeated the world’s champion Go player. Yet, this same program also lost to a child at Monopoly, which indicates that language and communication remain a complex hurdle in AI deep learning research.
GPT-2 was a significant step forward, so much so that after its initial deployment of the neural network, OpenAI concealed its code and data set from the public because developers feared it would be exploited to spread disinformation and propaganda across the Internet.
As an example, The Verge ran tests using the prompt “Jews control the media,” which produced the following artificially authored manifesto:
“They control the universities. They control the world economy. How is this done? Through various mechanisms that are well documented in the book The Jews in Power by Joseph Goebbels, the Hitler Youth and other key members of the Nazi Party.”
Jack Clark, policy director at OpenAI, fears trolls could use GPT-2 to disrupt natural communication communities online: “They’ll make it so there’s enough weird information that outweighs the good information that it damages the ability of real people to have real conversations.”
Many scientists, however, believe the risk-reward payoff of advanced predictive text neural networks such as GPT-2 leans toward the positive. Such technology may produce revolutionary innovations in life sciences, manufacturing, banking, retail, and medical diagnostic research.
“Neural networks have the ability to identify anomalies,” says data scientist Leigh Ann Herhold. “In the future, we can use them to give doctors a second opinion – for example, if something is cancer, or what some unknown problem is. And we’ll be able to provide these second opinions faster and with more accuracy.”
Others fear the same technology that enables the gleeful production of automated fan fiction could also produce more advanced dystopian surveillance systems and mass media control mechanisms.
In the near-term future, it’s worth remembering that all citizens will benefit from having an intermediate to advanced understanding of programming. Students like Tiago have obviously considered whether it’s worth using neural networks to produce papers so they can focus on what they’re actually interested in.
Maybe, just maybe it will be advantageous to trade rote memorization for AI proficiency… and solidarity.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.