China revoking degrees for AI-aided dissertations?

Chinese authorities are proposing a revision to the academic degree law, which could allow institutions to revoke diplomas for students using AI tools for dissertation writing, raising concerns about intellectual dishonesty.

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Chinese education authorities are proposing a significant step to combat academic fraud as the influence of AI grows within the country. A recently proposed revision to the academic degree law could empower institutions to rescind diplomas of students who employ AI tools to compose their dissertations, a practice that has raised concerns about intellectual dishonesty.

The move represents a part of China’s broader effort to regulate the burgeoning AI technology. Earlier this month, the nation implemented its inaugural set of regulations overseeing generative AI activities. This recent amendment to the academic degree law specifically bans the use of AI for crafting dissertations. The prohibition was not included in the initial version of the draft law issued in 2021, which solely covered infractions like plagiarism and data manipulation. Although the complete text of the updated draft is yet to be disclosed, this new provision highlights China’s commitment to upholding academic integrity in the digital age.

China’s existing regulations on academic degrees define the prerequisites and procedures for obtaining higher education credentials. Since their inception in 1980, these regulations have seen their most substantial revision to date, as the revised draft law was introduced to the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, during its currently ongoing fifth session.

The surge in popularity of ChatGPT and its Chinese counterparts has been notable, particularly among students using AI tools for various academic tasks. However, certain academic journals, such as those affiliated with the China Academy of Sciences and Tianjin Normal University, have instituted prohibitions or guidelines regarding AI utilisation.

Moreover, a collaborative effort between People’s Daily, the University of Science and Technology of China, and the Anhui province AI research institute yielded AIGC-X in April — a pioneering AI content detector capable of distinguishing between human-generated and machine-generated text with more than 90% accuracy.

In a separate development, China’s largest academic paper database, CNKI, recently unveiled its AI assistant, simplifying paper discovery and review for users.