Artificial Intelligence AI has become more accessible with free programs such as ChatGPT, BLACKBOX AI, Adobe Firefly and more. With the right prompt and program, AI can write essays, type out code and create detailed artwork, just to name a few of its capabilities.

Winona Istre, program coordinator for the undergraduate computer science program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said that AI can be a great tool, but with the potential for abuse.

“In academia, a lot of the stuff that it provides, of course, is not bad intelligence, because there’s so much good stuff out there. It’s that students tend to want to use it to get out of work. And that’s where we run into a lot of problems,” Istre said.

However, AI does not need to be dismissed from a student’s arsenal of tools, so long as the student is actually learning.

“See your instructor and be honest with them. ‘I’ve seen this approach in ChatGPT’ or some other solution that you’ve seen. And ask, how are they doing this? Why did they do this in this solution? Truly learn why, you know, truly learn the actual solution. There’s nothing wrong with seeing how others take an approach to things, but learn it,” Istre said.

Students using AI is up for debate due to it being a new issue that is constantly evolving, especially when it comes to essays.

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that learns the more users engage with it and give it prompts and corrections. It can even write an essay with the right prompt, but can only provide fake “sources” as the program is not able to actually cite correct sources as of yet. 

According to Ethan Gautreau, program coordinator of honors at UL Lafayette, although AI doesn’t seem capable of writing at a graduate level yet, it does make giving assignments more difficult.

“It makes it difficult for us to say, ‘Write me this paper, turn it in’ and I can be confident that you are the one that wrote it. It’s always been true that you could go pay somebody else to write your paper and unless I have hard proof of that, I can’t really accuse you of academic dishonesty, right? That’s always been true,” Gautreau said.

Students have begun to use programs like ChatGPT to write essays for them and turn them in for class. Instructors are not able to just run this through Turnitin as the AI has been becoming increasingly harder to detect. 

Teachers have started to try using different programs that claim to detect AI usage such as Writer’s AI Content Detector or GPTZero with varying success. 

“Even if you give me a program that says, ‘I’m 89% sure this was aided by artificial intelligence,’ that is not enough for me to fail a student. So professors are having to get around that, but that’s one narrow case,” Gautreau said.

Besides the difficulties AI presents in terms of figuring out if a student is being academically honest, Gautreau notes the positives of AI.

“In other fields or instances in education, it’s going to be a benefit. I was in a data analytics class, and that was already starting to fold AI into the software we were using to analyze giant chunks of data that we were dealing with,” Gautreau said.

The honors program has already had to adapt to the use of AI when students were found using AI in the Spring of 2023 for their book report essays in Honors seminar. As a result, they changed from making students write an essay to taking a quiz.

“This was already getting kind of tenuous as the rise of the Internet and the rise of SparkNotes. We weren’t stupid, we knew that a lot of students weren’t reading the book cover to cover to write their paper. But GPT was like the final nail, we had to adapt and overcome.”

AI is also causing waves in the art world. With programs such as Adobe Firefly or Midjourney Alternative, anyone with the right prompt can create detailed artwork in any style they may desire. 

When Stephanie Paine, associate professor for photography, was asked about AI in photography, she said that it’s important to see where it goes, and that what photography is isn’t entirely set in stone yet.

“This is a big thing, because photography is always growing with technology. It’s only a 200-year-old medium, so its evolution has always been technology-based. And I think we are still defining what photography is,” Paine said.

She added that AI is another component being added to the various photographic processes, and that she’s seen some that can pass as being fairly realistic.

“And I think there’s skill behind making the right choices, using the right prompts to generate the kind of images that you want. But I think we have to start making more boundaries.”

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to art, especially in competitions. 

German photographer Boris Elagsen decided to test competitions by submitting an AI generated photo that won the Creative category for the Sony World Photography contest, which he refused the prize for, saying “AI images and photography should not compete with each other in an award like this. They are different entities. AI is not photography.”

But other artists defend their win unapologetically, such as Jason M. Allen, whose “Theatre D’opera Spatial” was created for the Colorado State Fair, and which he openly admitted to using Midjourney for.

However, the ownership over AI generated art is the big question. 

Since AI generators pull from multiple sources, including copyrighted art works, can an artist truly claim ownership over art that is a mass collection of other art? How can copyrighted artworks be defended against being used by AI if the artists do not want their art to be used? 

AI generated art is not currently copyrightable in the United States and has prompted investigation into how to best handle Generative AI status. 

The increasing use of AI, especially by studios, has partly caused the strike being held by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), which started May 2.

Part of the reason for the ongoing strike is to seek protections against AI. SAG-AFTRA is concerned about studios wanting to pay actors for a day of work to capture their likeness, that they want to own to use indefinitely without any other additional pay or consent from the actor. 

SAG-AFTRA sees this as a huge threat to their way of making a living as well as losing control of their image. 

WGA seeks to regulate AI use for studios, as AI presents a threat to their work but also provides possibilities and source of new inspiration.

AI has also infiltrated the phone call scam arena. According to CBS News, there have been incidents of phone scams that replicate the voices of friends and family, which further tricks the victims and makes deducing calls that are scams more difficult. 

AI has its flaws and is also filled with possibilities that will continue to expand in all aspects of the digital realm and beyond. 

For each “good” it provides, such as aiding in understanding difficult subject matter and inspiring ideas, there will be ways to exploit it such as scam calls replicating a loved one’s voice from just minutes of hearing it. 

“In general, as far as society is concerned, it’s the next big wave just like the internet was when I was a kid. It’s neither good nor bad. It comes down to how we end up using it just like the internet,” said Gautreau.