GPT-3 is already capable of answering questions of the sort used in essay topics and take home exams. It does not answer them well, but it answers them well enough to get a passing grade in many college courses and most high school courses. It is likely that many students have already started using it for this. It costs about 6 cents per thousand words, and anyone can get access to it within five minutes. I cannot emphasize enough that this is not “sometime vaguely in the next five years”, nor is it “accessible only to students with a background in comp sci”. It’s a 6 cents per thousand words plagiarism service available to everyone right now. Check it out if you don’t believe me:
Generally speaking, plagiarism raises complex ethical questions. In a vicious and coercive job market, embedded in an individualist society, I do not necessarily resent students who try to avoid flunking out through plagiarism. When having a job with dignity depends on academic results, plagiarism cannot be considered solely in the abstract context of intellectual honesty.
However, I firmly believe that students should be discouraged from plagiarizing using GPT-3 for their own good. It is likely that in the future plagiarism using GPT-3 will be detectable using machine learning, there will doubtless be many past cases of plagiarism “uncovered” at this time. It is also possible that administrators may order search backs through past essays, particularly if they are stored in electronic form, to detect GPT-3 plagiarists when the technology becomes available. Given that GPT-3 now seems to have gone viral, I would urge educators to think about this as an emergency that they need to address within the next few months.