A math teacher from Connecticut points out that Artificial Intelligence is making cheating extremely easy for students with access to the Internet.

How She Found Out

Denise Garcia, a math teacher from West Hartford in Connecticut points out that the growth of artificial intelligence is making it extremely easy for her students to cheat. Garcia said that she knows her students may sometimes cheat, but that this situation, which she discovered in February, turned out to be different.

Garcia accidentally put an extremely advanced equation in one of the problem sets for her AP Calculus students. She found that somehow, quite a few of the students in her class, which only has 15 people, managed to solve the problem correctly. She said that those students did show their work, which would pass the original litmus test of whether or not a student has been cheating.

Garcia was confused until she remembered that a few years ago, her students had told her about “Wolfram|Alpha,” an online tool that could finish complicated calculations in a matter of seconds. The site provides answers as well as the calculation steps in order to reach that answer.

About Wolfram

Wolfram is an online program that uses AI to “perfectly and untraceably solve equations.” It uses technology that processes natural language and can also break down parts of a question and cross reference them against a massive database for answers.

This database includes information about geodesic schemes, human genes, weather measurements, chemical compounds and thousands of other subjects. When these datasets are brought together, the program can use them to provide answers, and so Wolfram has found its way into students’ homework since its creation.

The program’s main limitation, however, is the fact that it can’t understand just any question you give it, and can’t respond in “natural language”- or what we as humans understand as colloquial speech.

The creator of Wolfram, Stephen Wolfram, has said that he never planned that the program would become “highbrow CliffNotes,” but has also pointed out that he isn’t too concerned. He argued that “Mechanical math is a very low level of precise thinking.” Wolfram thinks that the emphasis should be on “computational thinking” intead. He describes computational thinking as “trying to formulate your thoughts so that you can explain them to a sufficiently smart computer.”

To him, students knowing algebra in today’s world wouldn’t get them far. However, knowing how to formulate an algebra question to a computer that can figure it out, is a valuable skill that students are learning.


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