Another AI Output Detector

January 1, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

It looks like AI detection may have a way to catch up with AI text capabilities. But for how long? Nature reports, “’ChatGPT Detector’ Catches AI Generated Papers with Unprecedented Accuracy.” The key to this particular tool’s success is its specificity—it was developed by chemist Heather Desaire and her team at the University of Kansas specifically to catch AI-written chemistry papers. Reporter McKenzie Prillaman tells us:

“Using machine learning, the detector examines 20 features of writing style, including variation in sentence lengths, and the frequency of certain words and punctuation marks, to determine whether an academic scientist or ChatGPT wrote a piece of text. The findings show that ‘you could use a small set of features to get a high level of accuracy’, Desaire says.”

The model was trained on human-written papers from 10 chemistry journals then tested on 200 samples written by ChatGPT-3.5 and ChatGPT-4. Half the samples were based on the papers’ titles, half on the abstracts. Their tool identified the AI text 100% and 98% of the time, respectively. That clobbers the competition: ZeroGPT only caught about 35–65% and OpenAI’s own text-classifier snagged 10–55%. The write-up continues:

“The new ChatGPT catcher even performed well with introductions from journals it wasn’t trained on, and it caught AI text that was created from a variety of prompts, including one aimed to confuse AI detectors. However, the system is highly specialized for scientific journal articles. When presented with real articles from university newspapers, it failed to recognize them as being written by humans.”

The lesson here may be that AI detectors should be tailor made for each discipline. That could work—at least until the algorithms catch on. On the other hand, developers are working to make their systems more and more like humans.

Cynthia Murrell, January 1, 2024


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