Online searches for ‘ai essay writing’ skyrocket 2,041%, as educators fear widespread cheating on exams

Google trends analysis found that searches for ‘ai essay writing’ hit a massive high of 2,041% in December compared to the last five years. These findings emerge as a recent Guardian report reveals that a lecturer has found one fifth of submitted University essays have detected bot assistance from AI programs such as ChatGPT.


The analysis of Google trends data was done by online tool specialists at Tiny Wow who discovered the spike. The soaring interest in artificial intelligence is taking place amid the release of AI tool ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer).

Tiny Wow also found that online searches for ‘ai’ hit an all-time worldwide high, jumping 159% in December compared to any other year since 2004. The spike begins to climb just after the November 30th release date of the software where in the five days following this, one million users signed up to ChatGPT. The possible negative and positive impacts of the software are explored below. 

What is ChatGPT?


ChatGPT is a form of generative AI, artificial intelligence that can generate ideas and create content. ChatGPT comes from OpenAI, the creators of DALL-E 2, the text-to-image AI software that makes images from simple text inputs. ChatGPT is a conversational chatbot that interacts with users with the ability to ask follow-up questions, challenge incorrect premises and reject inappropriate requests. Users can ask the software to write, summarise, and paraphrase text in any style, write code, and more.


OpenAI claims that its goal is to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole. However, there is reason to ask at what point does generative AI pose a threat to the education system? 


What are the potential negative impacts of ChatGPT?


  • Plagiarism: Users of ChatGPT quickly discovered the potential of the technology as a means to assist in various tasks, very quickly. For example, a student asks ChatGPT to summarise a text or write an essay on any topic, and the results are presented in seconds. There is a clear interest in students looking to AI for essay help.The essay writing abilities of ChatGPT are so efficient, comprehensive and coherent that students across the world could be utilising this to do their homework for them essentially. The worry from educators is that ChatGPT and other AI software could have a negative impact on student learning and could see the end of homework altogether. If new AI technology can evade anti-plagiarism software, then pen-and-paper exams and coursework may be the future for students.



  • Writing malware: ChatGPT may be utilised to produce malware and facilitate hackers with cyber-attacks. According to dark web forums, some users of the software have used the AI tool to create ransomware by asking ChatGPT to create python scripts that are designed to decrypt and encrypt. With time, this could lead to cyber criminals running extortion campaigns. Simply put, cybercriminals could take data hostage and extort victims for money.


What are the potential positive impacts of ChatGPT?



  • Update education systems: As mentioned above, plagiarism is a possible worry to educators, but rather than seeing generative AI as a danger to education, it could be used as an opportunity tomakeover the current education systems in place that may be overdue for an update. Teachers could even utilise the software to engage students creatively; for example, a teacher could use ChatGPT to create engaging writing prompts for students to respond to. This change could be a positive step towards encouraging critical thinking in the classroom.


  • Improve business customer service and content: ChatGPT’s ability to converse and respond to human input can be utilised by businesses dealing with customer requests. The improved customer experience could increase customer loyalty to the brand. 


Chat GPT could also be used to create content for a businesses website, or even write articles. This tool could save a business much time and money spent on personnel. 


 A spokesperson from Tiny Wow commented on the findings:


“The increased interest in AI technology is sure to have an impact on education, businesses and the general public. Utilising this incredible tool should be done so with caution, as the temptation to let an intelligent software do the work for you can open you up to potential risks of plagiarism or presenting inaccurate facts.”