Artificial Intelligence could make us all lazy in the future, committee hears

Five students present the pros and cons of AI in the classroom and in everyday life to an Oireachtas committee

Seán O’Sullivan, from Cólaiste Chiaráin in Croom, Co Limerick, with his project VerifyMe at the 60th Annual BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. Photograph: Alan Betson

BT Young Scientist winner Seán O’Sullivan has warned that artificial intelligence (AI) is making it increasingly difficult to detect activity that is created by computers rather than humans.

Mr O’Sullivan, a student at Cólaiste Chiaráin in Croom, Co Limerick, won with his project VerifyMe which is designed to confirm whether an author really has written their essay or if it was produced through AI.

Speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education, Mr O’Sullivan said there was an urgency to the issue as new programs such as Humanizer could create essays which made it very difficult to detect that an essay was written using AI.

He said VerifyMe was efficient even against advanced AI systems such as ChatGPT4 which meant it was particularly important in the field of academia.

READ SOME MORE

However, he said AI was a “constant moving target” and current detection systems had to be upgraded every time a new AI model came along.

However, he believes AI can have a beneficial impact by customising learning for students who find it difficult to learn by traditional means. He predicted it would lead to “personalised education”.

Five students who submitted projects to the BT Young Scientist competition appeared in front of the committee.

Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan asked if AI would lead to increased cheating at school. Layla-Grace White, a student at Ballinteer Community School in Dublin, said some of her teachers made students repeat their work without having access to a mobile phone if it was suspected the student’s work had been done by AI.

Student Padráig Meade said there may come a time that AI would be so prevalent that educators would have to go back to traditional closed book written examinations rather than continual assessment.

“It will have to get to a point where we completely stop it because everyone will be using it. There would be no point in examinations without a closed book.”

Student Leah Jennings from Ballinteer Community School in Dublin told Oireachtas members that people would become more intellectually lazy because they would simply use AI to tell them what they needed to know. “Looking into the future, it will be a very lazy world,” she said.

Student Eugenie Kelleher from St Mary’s College in Macroom, Co Cork, said AI had not been able to mimic the subtleties of human speech. “AI in general does not understand the art of human conversation,” she said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times