At least four articles credit the AI tool as a co-author, as publishers scramble to regulate its use.
The artificial-intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGPT that has taken the world by storm has made its formal debut in the scientific literature — racking up at least four authorship credits on published papers and preprints.
This piece published in Nature is another item in our recent discussion about ChatGPT and the role of Artificial Intelligence. We need a far more nuanced and informed discussion on this topic. ChatGPT is not a General Intelligence AI (AGI). The answers it produces may be surprising and useful, but the system does not have a genuine understanding of its interactions with users. The general public’s inclination to anthropomorphism is well known. Text produced without understanding cannot be considered to be the work of an author. ChatGPT cannot be considered responsible for the text it produces or accuntable for its mistakes or plagiarism. It is a tool that might and should be acknowledged when it is used, but it cannot be named as a co-author. We need research institutions, learned societies, national bodies, research funding bodies and publications to issue clear policies, guidance material and professional development on this matter.
ChatGPT is a large language model (LLM), which generates convincing sentences by mimicking the statistical patterns of language in a huge database of text collated from the Internet. The bot is already disrupting sectors including academia: in particular, it is raising questions about the future of university essays and research production.
Publishers and preprint servers contacted by Nature’s news team agree that AIs such as ChatGPT do not fulfil the criteria for a study author, because they cannot take responsibility for the content and integrity of scientific papers. But some publishers say that an AI’s contribution to writing papers can be acknowledged in sections other than the author list. (Nature’s news team is editorially independent of its journal team and its publisher, Springer Nature.)
In one case, an editor told Nature that ChatGPT had been cited as a co-author in error, and that the journal would correct this.
ChatGPT is one of 12 authors on a preprint1 about using the tool for medical education, posted on the medical repository medRxiv in December last year.