Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, but at this point in time, you can be reasonably sure the article you’re reading right now was written by a person. I, a human being, give you my carbon-based guarantee that I cast about in my mind for each and every word you’re about to read — and I had to learn to do this thing, first with the help of teachers and then by way of thousands of hours of practice. That’s how it’s always been with writing: Whether you wrote it yourself, plagiarized it, paraphrased it or took dictation, writing has always come from some person’s brain and through some person’s fingers. It is now early 2023, and that’s beginning to change — and with it, the way students learn to write.

In November of 2022, a seven-year-old company called OpenAI released a chatbot called ChatGPT — short for “generative pre-trained transformer” — which was immediately heralded as the best piece of artificial intelligence software ever made.

Chatbots aren’t a new idea — in 1950, Alan Turinga pioneer in modern computing and artificial intelligence, wrote a paper called “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” in which he described the “Imitation Game” — now called the “Turing Test” — that could measure a machine’s ability to act in ways that might be indistinguishable from those of a human. Over a million users tried its beta version in the five days after its release. That was in 1950.

Now, ChatGPT can write just about anything — jokes about elephants in the style of a pirate, elementary school book reports about Dolley Madison, country songs written from the perspective of a mongoose, flourless banana bread recipes — you name it. The wildest part is, ChatGPT can make whatever it turns out seem like it was written in any voice you tell it to imitate. This, of course, has educators panicking.

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