Cheaters

Just for fun and weirdness, a couple of items about computers and cheating.

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Via MindMatters, AI is not very good at catching cheaters, but it’s also not very good at cheating.

Detecting cheating, at any level of education, is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game. AI, far from being a simple fix, makes plagiarism easier. In a 2019 article in Nature, Debora Weber-Wulff stressed that “Software cannot determine plagiarism; it can only point to some cases of matching text. The systems can be useful for flagging up problems, but not for discriminating between originality and plagiarism. That decision must be taken by a person.”

Here’s an example: Recently, some computer science pros discovered how to use translation software to largely disguise plagiarism from machine detection. The cheaters later got caught because the AI’s word choices were weird: “For example, ‘remaining energy’ became ‘leftover vitality’; ‘cloud computing’ became ‘haze figuring’; and ‘signal to noise’ became ‘flag to commotion.’”

Hmm. Not much advance since the old favorite ‘The vodka is good but the meat is rotten.’

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In paper and pencil tests it’s easy to detect cheating if you plan for it. When teaching electronics at DeVry, I always made up two versions of each test. The schematics and questions looked the same at a glance, but each version had different numbers on the resistors and capacitors and inductors.   For multiple-choice questions, I simply rearranged the choices.

I then interspersed the versions when passing them out. A student who was reading from his smart neighbor’s answers was instantly recognizable. After the first failure, the cheaters caught on, and either dropped out or did their own figuring. This technique obviously wouldn’t work with essay questions, but it’s foolproof with multiple-choice and numerical answers.

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Via Deadspin, a chess cheater received commands from his helper through ‘vibrating anal beads’. The process isn’t described, but apparently it was a miniature receiver activating a piezo buzzer to send Morse inside his gut, sensed by his prostate. Nice combination of the two topics I’ve been discussing this week!

(The media stories cast doubt on the claim, which was made by his opponent. It’s possible that the opponent made up the whole thing to explain his loss.)

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