The AI predicament: Is using AI cheating?

Is using AI cheating? It’s certainly a debate out there; some cases are clearer-cut than others. Let’s discuss that question and the closely-related question of is AI writing cheating?

In this article, I discuss the following:

AI as a tool for improving human capabilities

AI in marketing can make a lot of things easier. For example, I use Copylime for headline ideas and outline ideas. Here are the examples from this article:

AI outline writing for articles


article headlines written by AI

I would say these are not bad to enhance my brainstorming on the topic as I’m writing an article for Christoph’s Content Corner. Now, I didn’t use any of these headlines completely, but they certainly helped me brainstorm and enhance my original headline. I used the “The AI Predicament” piece of one of the ideas for my final article.

The same goes for the outline. I used a big chunk of the article section ideas and updated one. But the idea for this article, the validation through keyword research on whether people even wonder about this topic, the content, and even thoughts for the content, is all mine. This is my current opinion, and I wrote it myself.

Read next: Captivate your buyers: How to tell your brand story

The fine line between assistance and cheating

It’s also good to remember what the content is used for. For example, I create my site to keep sharing informational content with all of you. It’s not an academic test. It’s a personal blog. Of course, since it’s unique, AI can only help me with that to a certain extent. Though, I did recently clone my voice with AI and published a chapter from one of my marketing books that way.

Is that cheating? I don’t think so. The thoughts are still my own. The cloned AI voice is okay, though it doesn’t bring my entire personality out. But without it, I probably wouldn’t have done the reading of the chapter anyway.

In essence, AI is helping me improve my content while keeping it unique to what I have to say about the situation. You can also consider simply stating to the audience when AI was used.

In essence, it depends on what you are working on and what the expectations are. For example, when I submit quotes for articles, the writer usually has a note at the bottom of requests now:

“No AI responses.”

So, it would go against the expectations of the engagement. Some freelance writing platforms now have similar rules:

Content submitted by you has to be written by you, not AI.”

So that would likely be considered cheating, and in the case of a contract for content work, the other party could even call it a breach of contract if the writer uses AI to write the content they should’ve written themselves.

Is AI content copyrighted?

In addition, there are copyright issues you might run into. For example, a freelance writer gets hired to write something. So they write the thing they are writing on the client’s behalf, who then automatically holds the copyright. Well, the problem is that AI-created content cannot be copyrighted currently. So nobody holds that copyright. That’s true for content that is only created by AI, but getting an AI-assist certainly is okay.  Gleb Tsipursky explains in his book how to use AI for some foundational work but then takes the content further and adds that human touch.

Plus, as the author of  ChatGPT: $100M PROMPT Secrets for Marketers, Influencers, Entrepreneurs” points out, to get AI to give you anything usable, you have to ask good, clear, and descriptive prompts. So saying: “I need an article on whether or not using AI is cheating” is likely not descriptive enough. But asking this might get you closer to what is actually useful: “Please write an article for me that discusses what needs to be considered when using AI to write your marketing content in <this specific> industry. What are the pros and cons?”

When AI definitely is cheating

In the case of official knowledge tests, the use of AI is always cheating. That includes school tests, for a certification, and anything like that.  So when a teacher asks students to write an essay and they use AI, that’s cheating. The test is literally about testing their writing skills – not AIs.

Even for job tests, and I’m not necessarily a fan of these unpaid projects, if a potential employer asks you for a writing test and you use AI to produce the sample, that’s cheating.

Read next: How to Use Data to Make Decisions: A Guide for Success in Content Strategy

How content marketers use AI

The Content Marketing Institute discusses in its salary report how content marketers say they currently use AI.

Balancing AI benefits with potential drawbacks

AI is still in its infancy, so it’s not perfect. Sometimes it gets facts wrong if you have it write an article section or a legal filing (in the case of this attorney). A huge benefit is the brainstorming capability – like in the planning process- and when fine-tuning content. Grammarly, the grammar and usage checker, is AI, for example.

Indeed, the usage of AI in marketing and writing will continue to evolve. Still, it’s essential to consider what usage is appropriate and what will be regarded as cheating.

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