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What Are The Differences Between AI and Human Writing: A Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Enthusiasts

AI writing is getting way harder to decipher from human text. Humans generally add way more creativity, complexity, and randomness throughout their writing – that's what makes us unique. Here's a few ways to help identify the differences between the two & the implications this might have within the next few years.
Updated September 3, 2023
a human and robot sitting next to each other in desks at a classroom, but the robot is trying very hard to seem like he belongs and is human, 4k digital art
a human and robot sitting next to each other in desks at a classroom, but the robot is trying very hard to seem like he belongs and is human, 4k digital art

WOW, if you've been paying attention to the news recently – you must've heard about ChatGPT, right?

It's kind of incredible to realize how much has changed in the tech world in under a year. I mean you could even ask ChatGPT to generate an introduction to an article like this...

Not perfect, but if I wanted to tweak that I totally could.

Now think of this on a bigger scale. Everyone around the world is soon going to learn and be able to master the potential of these tools. Whether it's in education, business, or just productivity, there's no doubt in my mind "ChatGPT" (or some derivative of it) will become a household topic within the next 5 years.

AI has been plaguing the academic world with AI-generated essays & text scrambling softwares. It's only a matter of time until teachers are going to have to start offering exams on paper again, right?

Artificial intelligence, particularly in the field of natural language processing, has made remarkable strides over the last year. These new systems such as chatbots, content generators, and language models are now capable of producing content that can be EASILY mistaken for human-written text.

I mean that entire last paragraph was written with ChatGPT, all I did was bold the world easily. Scary.

As educators, parents, or really anyone trying to wrap their head around what just happened & what the future looks like, understanding the distinctions between AI-generated and human-authored content is crucial for fostering a responsible consumption of information.

While I don't think there's a definitive way to check for AI writing, there's a few things you can do until these generative models get so good there's absolutely no way of identifying any discernible differences.

What Even Is AI Writing?

AI writing refers to the production of text by algorithms that have been trained on large datasets of human-written content. These algorithms, often referred to as language models, use statistical methods to generate text that is grammatically correct and contextually relevant. Some AI writing tools are designed to create articles, stories, or even poems.

Some of the biggest commercial tools in the market right now (besides ChatGPT) are Jasper, Copy, and WriteSonic. These apps let you input some context, give a line or two of instructions, then produce complete essays an articles for you.

They came out about 2 years ago but recently got crushed when the company behind all the models (OpenAI) released their very own tool, ChatGPT. Now ChatGPT is better than almost anything else on the market to help write educational, business, or personal responses to questions.

If we take it a step back and add another level of abstraction, AI writing tools like QuillBot and Undetectable AI are able to scramble words around to confuse detection tools. They try to make writing look more human by mixing up the predictability of someones sentences.

Beyond these writing tools and scramblers, there's a lot of syntactical differences you can use your own judgement to help determine if something has been written with AI.

Remember, these things don't have emotions yet, as for now they just pretend they do.

If I'm writing something written rapidly with ChatGPT, I can tell almost instantly. It's pretty great writing but has a robotic undertone to it. Here are a few differences I believe stand between AI & human writing:

Key Differences Between AI and Human Writing

1. Creativity and Originality

  • Human Writing: When humans write, they often infuse their content with creativity, emotions, and personal experiences. The thought process of a writer is inherently creative, drawing on a lifetime of experiences, emotions, and imagination. You can't really predict what a great writer will say throughout their story. The story paints a vivid picture in your mind.
  • AI Writing: In contrast, AI lacks consciousness and personal experiences. It generates text based on patterns it has learned from its training data. Although it can mimic creativity to an extent, it doesn’t ‘create’ in the truest sense of the word. How would AI review a new television? It wouldn't know how to. It will just repeat things that it thinks you want to hear.

2. Context and Nuance

  • Human Writing: Humans have the innate ability to understand deep contextual nuances and cultural references. We can also comprehend the sentiments and implied meanings behind words. This is also why the best writing just seems to be so "magical." A well-informed writer brings in context from things that their readers wouldn't just bring up themselves.
  • AI Writing: AI can struggle with context, especially when nuances or cultural references are involved. It might generate grammatically correct sentences but fail to capture the deeper context or sentiment. It's basically just a word printer that read a ton of textbooks (I might be oversimplifying a bit...)

3. Ethical and Moral Considerations

  • Human Writing: Authors often weigh the societal impact and moral implications of what they write. While this isn't always seen with journalists today, most humans definitely have the ability to dictate their morals with what they write.
  • AI Writing: AI does not possess morals or ethics. It is incapable of making value judgments. The content it generates might be insensitive or inappropriate without the algorithm being aware of it. Algorithmic bias is huge and is going to take decades to unwrap the problem.

4. Evolution and Learning

  • Human Writing: Human writers grow and evolve over time. They can learn from feedback, adapt their style, and develop a unique voice. This is why we like writers, brands, influencers, etc. We cling onto who they are, their thoughts, their real opinions.
  • AI Writing: AI models can be updated and trained on new data, but they do not evolve in the same sense as humans. Their learning is constrained by the data they are fed, and they lack personal growth at their current stage of tech.

5. Error Handling

  • Human Writing: Humans might make errors due to oversight or lack of knowledge. However, they can understand and correct them based on context. You can't always tell when a human is spreading false information, but lack of confidence and credibility within writing is a huge red flag.
  • AI Writing: AI might generate errors that seem plausible. Since it lacks understanding, it can confidently produce incorrect or nonsensical information. Go ahead and ask ChatGPT a question you know it won't have the answer to. It just hallucinates and says things it thinks you want to hear.

Implications for Education and Parenting

Understanding these differences is essential for raising the next generation of students and journalists.

While AI content isn't inherently a bad thing, lack of ethical guidelines and guidance can result in some really bad things. When students start using AI to do their college assignments, what's really going to happen to the next generation of our society?

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Critical Thinking: Teach students and children to critically evaluate content. Is the information reliable? Does it take ethical considerations into account?
  2. Digital Literacy: Develop skills to discern between AI-generated and human-written content. For instance, detecting incongruities in context or understanding can be a clue that content was AI-generated.
  3. Encouraging Creativity: Emphasize the importance of creativity, ethics, and personal voice in writing. These are inherently human traits that set us apart from machines.

The Road Ahead

As AI continues to advance, the line between AI and human writing will become increasingly blurred. We'll get to a point where we can't figure things out anymore. This isn't going to be as easy as plagiarism where you can find the source to things. There's no watermark on AI writing & probably won't ever be.

We have to change how we approach these differences. AI and Human writing are very different yet quite hard to tell about, but the reasons they are used will be the determine factor to their legitimacy.

By cultivating critical thinking, digital literacy, and creativity, we can prepare future generations to navigate this evolving landscape with discernment and integrity.

Remember, AI writing is a tool — powerful and useful, but devoid of the depth that humanity brings. Let's add some ethics in the mix to stay on pace to a morally grounded society.

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Written by Justin Gluska
Justin is the founder of Gold Penguin, a business technology blog that helps people start, grow, and scale their business using AI. The world is changing and he believes it's best to make use of the new technology that is starting to change the world. If it can help you make more money or save you time, he'll write about it!
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