Feb 1, 2023
An AI-Generated Historical Fake: Our Digital Easter Egg Hunt
We recently celebrated the launch of our new website at nacbs.org. In an effort to inject some fun into the launch, we hid one AI-generated image among the pages of our site and challenged members to spot the fake. Kudos to those who used careful powers of observation to detect the historical imposter!
Midjourney generated the image from a prompt to create a painting in the style of William Hogarth. You’ll notice the image features some additional hands that don’t look quite right. AI hasn’t perfected art yet, and as you can see in this case, it struggles to produce hands.
Caption: An AI-generated image in the style of William Hogarth by Midjourney, 2023. The image appears alongside a sign-up form to get involved.
Our digital easter egg experiment with AI was in the spirit of lighthearted fun. But AI tools have become an increasing cause for concern, particularly among educators, as different applications of machine learning become publicly available. ChatGPT, a chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022, has increased concerns about the potential for students to use AI for plagiarism. ChatGPT has demonstrated its ability to produce convincing, conversational prose, and its earlier iteration ChatGPT3 even passed the final exam for the Wharton School’s MBA program.
AI’s potential for plagiarism has led some to predict the death of the essay as a form of assessment. Many, however, argue that student’s ability to use the new technology to plagiarize can be constrained by adapting writing assignments to demand critical thinking skills AI tools aren’t yet capable of performing and that tools designed to detect plagiarism will also become more robust. OpenAI, for example, is currently working to “watermark” ChatGPT’s output, which would make it easier to detect work created by the chatbot.
These fears over AI plagiarism have already led New York State schools to implement a ban on its use. Many caution, however, against bans of AI from school settings. Rather than attempt to prevent its use by students outright, some educators advocate for its positive incorporation into the classroom. You can find multiple suggestions online for how to incorporate AI into the classroom. As one educator puts it, they hope AI chatbots will become “like calculators for writing.”
Outside of the classroom, AI technology also holds promise for helping with historical research. Whether it is making data more accessible with OCR, using AI tools to make historical newspaper images searchable, or using a neural network to help reconstruct parts of ancient texts, AI is certainly being applied in new and exciting ways.
Given the recent attention on AI, we thought a digital easter egg would be a fun way to engage with this important topic. Are you an instructor thinking about how to incorporate AI into your classroom? Continue the conversation in our forum, where we have opened an “In the Classroom” category for pedagogical discussion. We hope our members will use the forum for discussing all things related to the content and practice of teaching British studies. Take a moment to check it out here!