Writing with an AI - Non-Fiction Example

The conversation about AI as a writing tool is exciting and a little terrifying. I tried a silly creative example -- but then I decided to see what it would do with a non-fiction sample. 
I decided to experiment with putting in a prompt about academic honesty. Here was my start:
"The problem we have today trying to ensure academic honesty while students have access to AI writing assistants"
And here are some of the resulting responses
Version 1 "AIs need to be smarter"
The problem we have today trying to ensure academic honesty while students have access to AI writing assistants is that AI services are not yet “smart” enough to know if they are helping a student cheat on an assignment or not. AI is learning, however, and it will improve. So how can you protect yourself today?
In your syllabus, you can list AI writing assistants as “unacceptable” sources of help. You can also ban the use of these services in your classroom. As technology improves and AI writing assistants become “smarter,” you may want to revisit this policy.
In the meantime, you can also use anti-plagiarism software like Copyleaks or SafeAssign to check for plagiarism in your students’ papers. If you do find evidence of cheating, you can then take appropriate disciplinary action.
Version 2 "We need to change how we write"
The problem we have today trying to ensure academic honesty while students have access to AI writing assistants is just another example of a much larger and more complex problem that this technology faces, which is how to change the way we write using AI.
In the foreseeable future, AI will not be able to replace human writers, but it will be able to assist them in the writing process. This will allow writers to focus on the creative aspects of writing, while the AI takes care of the mundane tasks.
However, this assistance comes at a cost. As AI begins to assist writers, it will also begin to change the way we write. The question is, how will these changes affect the way we communicate?
Version 3 "AI is advancing ahead of best practices for it's use"
The problem we have today trying to ensure academic honesty while students have access to AI writing assistants is that AI technology is currently ahead of best practices for using AI. Even when strict rules are in place to prevent AI from being used in cheating, AI technology is likely to become more sophisticated enough to outwit the rules. That is why we need to be proactive in developing ethical best practices related to AI use in the classroom.
Some possible ethical best practices related to AI use in the classroom might include:
1. Educating students on the implications of using AI writing assistants and the importance of academic honesty.
2. Prohibiting the use of AI writing assistants during exams or other assessment situations.
3. Requiring students to declare if they are using AI writing assistants when submitting assignments.
4. Checking submitted assignments for signs of AI use and penalizing students who are found to have used AI writing assistants without declaring it.
5. Developing software that can identify AI-written essays and flag them for further review.
6. Keeping up to date with the latest AI technology and developments in order to stay ahead of potential cheating methods.
7. Working with AI developers to ensure that their products are not being used for cheating purposes.
8. Supporting research into AI writing assistants with the aim of improving their ability to produce high-quality, original writing.
Version 4 "An extension of copying and pasting from the internet"
The problem we have today trying to ensure academic honesty while students have access to AI writing assistants is similar to the problems we face in the past with students copying and pasting work from the Internet.
There are a few key strategies that can be employed in order to help reduce the amount of academic dishonesty that takes place when using AI writing assistants.
First, it is important to make sure that students are aware of the consequences of plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Many students may not realize that using an AI writing assistant is considered cheating. By making the consequences clear, students will be less likely to use AI writing assistants.
Another strategy is to require students to submit drafts of their work to their instructors. This will allow instructors to catch any instances of plagiarism or academic dishonesty.
Finally, instructors can use plagiarism detection software to scan student work for plagiarism. This software can be used to identify instances of plagiarism and academic dishonesty.
Version 5 "Flaws in teaching with sentence starters"
The problem we have today trying to ensure academic honesty while students have access to AI writing assistants is that the students are the ones who are engaging in the deceptive behavior. Teachers and professors might have some suspicions if a paper suddenly comes in containing an unnatural amount of high-level vocabulary or utilizing ideas that the student hasn’t demonstrated a mastery of, but these can be discovered through a standard evaluation. It’s more difficult for colleges to identify when a writing assistant has been used if the student is not forthcoming.
But there’s another problem with these software programs that colleges need to deal with. They are the latest iteration of an approach to writing education that is rooted in giving students pre-packaged parts, instead of teaching them how to synthesize their own writing and their own thoughts.
Writing assistants are not alone in this. Many schools still use what are called “sentence starters” or “sentence completion exercises” as a way to help students practice writing. In these exercises, students are given a sentence with one or more blanks to fill in. They are expected to complete the sentence using a word that makes sense contextually and grammatically. For example, an exercise might give students the following sentence:
I like to read _________ books.
The student would then have to complete the sentence, likely choosing from a set of six cards containing various nouns:
I like to read smart books.
The sentence starters and sentence completions are the educational version of Mad Libs. They are designed to give students the kind of mechanical practice that will eventually allow them to write their own sentences. These exercises will generally be presented in the classroom with some direction on how to incorporate them into other writing. But a good deal of the students’ time in school is spent on these sorts of exercises.
There are several dozen peer-reviewed studies that suggest that sentence starters and sentence completions are of little value in developing writing skills. There are several more studies that suggest that they might be more harmful than helpful, often because they train the brain to respond to prompts instead of synthesizing information on its own.
Sentence starters and sentence completions have been around for a long time. In the 1950s, children grew up learning about “patterned language,” which was based on the premise that language is a set of patterns that need to be memorized. Once the patterns were learned, the student could then create their own sentences using them.
The problem with patterned language is that it does not reflect how language works. It’s more like taking a car for a joy ride than it is like learning how to drive. In order to learn how to write sentences, a student needs to experience how a sentence is created. They need to see how the concepts they want to communicate exist in the world and how they are constructed. Some of this can be accomplished through sentence starters and sentence completion exercises, but they are not the most effective teaching tools.
It’s a good thing that sentence starters and sentence completion exercises are not the only tools in a teacher’s toolkit. But they remain an important part of education and provide the first set of tools that many students use to learn how to write.
In order to escape the patterned language trap, teachers need to stop using sentence starters and sentence completions. It will mean more work for the teachers, who will need to find new techniques to help their students learn to write, but it’s worth it. Well-written sentences are not a set of patterns. They are an expression of thought that comes from within the student.
I think what surprises me the most about the results of this experiment is how different each of the responses is.  Not just in things like length and word choice, but we have one that cites sources while another produces a list of guidelines.  Some of them were more on the mark than others, but given the simple prompt, the idea that it produces this variety of response is interesting.  Then I, as the student, can work like an editor and pick the version that is moving in a direction I like best and take it from there.  
Check out the Creative Example