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AI Writing Detection: A Losing Battle Worth Fighting

“For a human, burstiness looks like it goes all over the place. It has sudden spikes and sudden bursts,” says Edward Tian, a Princeton student who developed an AI- detection app. For a machine-written essay, the graph looks “boring.” (traffic_analyzer/Getty Images) When humans write, they leave subtle signatures that hint at the prose's fleshy, brainy origins. Their word and phrase choices are more varied than those selected by machines that write. Human writers also draw from short- and long-term memories that recall a range of lived experiences and inform personal writing styles. And unlike machines, people are susceptible to inserting minor typos, such as a misplaced comma or a misspelled word. Such attributes betray the text's humanity. For these reasons, AI-writing detection tools are often designed to “look” for human signatures hiding in prose. But signature hunting presents a conundrum for sleuths attempting to distinguish between human- and machine-written prose. “If I'm a very intelligent AI and I want to bypass your detection, I could insert typos into my writing on purpose,” said Diyi Yang, assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University. Most Popular In this cat-and-mouse game, some computer scientists are working to make AI writers more humanlike, while others are working to improve detection tools. Academic fields make progress in this way. But some on the global artificial intelligence stage say this game's outcome is a foregone conclusion. “In the long run, it is almost sure that we will have AI systems that will produce text […]

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