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Fraud in Hamburg Abitur exams? Cell phones collected before an exam (symbolic image)

Photo: Hauke-Christian Dittrich / dpa

Several Hamburg students have been caught trying to cheat in exams for the Abitur with the help of chat software with artificial intelligence (AI). In at least one case, a teacher found a smartphone with a program like ChatGPT open on it, reports the broadcaster NDR 90.3 . The student had admitted to the attempted fraud.

With AI, texts on any question can be produced independently. The school authority in Hamburg confirmed to the NDR that there are also several other suspected cases. For example, teachers have become suspicious of corrections because parts of the exam were deficient, while others were error-free, the report says.

The schools then used software that checks the probability of the text being created by artificial intelligence. Result: There was probably cheating – but the legal department of the school board cannot prove this with certainty.

The alleged perpetrators could therefore get away without consequences. "Ultimately, it will be difficult to prove plagiarism beyond a reasonable doubt if the student has not been caught in flagranti," said a spokesman for the school board.

However, the chairman of the Association of Hamburg Grammar School Principals, Christian Gefert, assumes that there was no mass cheating in the Abitur examinations, but only in individual cases. In an interview with NDR 90.3, he demanded that the school board should regulate more clearly how schools can deal with the topic of artificial intelligence: "Crucial questions about legal certainty have not yet been answered."