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Beware of ChatGPT and Plagiarism

As you write your papers, document, document.

Much has been written in the past few weeks about university professors and plagiarism. What is different now is that we have ChatGPT, which any academic work can be run through to determine if the writing is original or has been copied from some previous work.

Beware, all you university students and those writing a thesis for your master's degree: You need to appropriately cite who you are quoting. Not only to show that it is your work, but also that perhaps you did not use ChatGPT to write the document in the first place.

Then, of course, using ChatGPT for certain emergency management purposes is appropriate. For instance, perhaps you need a brief scenario for an F2 tornado hitting a small town, say Freeport, Ill. It will hit at night when people are asleep and you want to have moderate, but not catastrophic, damages. Limit the word count to 250 words.

Here's what ChatGPT gave me for the proposed scenario:

"In the quiet town of Freeport, Illinois, a calm evening descended, cloaking the residents in their homes. As the night wore on, an unexpected change swept through the stillness. The distant rumble grew closer, heralding the arrival of an F2 tornado, its fury brewing amidst the darkness.

"With an eerie howl, the tornado tore through the outskirts of the town, catching many off-guard in their slumber. The roaring winds lashed against homes, toppling a few trees and causing scattered damage to roofs and fences. Debris danced through the air as the cyclone's force made its presence known, yet the heart of the town remained largely untouched.

"Amidst the chaos, emergency sirens pierced the night, stirring some from their sleep while others remained blissfully unaware. The town's emergency services swiftly mobilized, racing against time to ensure the safety of their community.

"As dawn approached, the true extent of the tornado's impact became visible. Some homes bore the brunt of the storm, their roofs damaged, windows shattered, and yards strewn with branches and debris. A few streets witnessed downed power lines, causing localized outages. Yet, amidst the upheaval, the resilient spirit of the town shone through as neighbors came together, offering support and aid to those affected.

"Though the town bore the scars of the night's unexpected turmoil, Freeport stood resilient. While the damages were moderate, the community's unity and determination to rebuild would soon weave a tale of recovery and solidarity in the face of adversity."

This is the basics, but you can add to it. Limit some of the "drama" in the scenario, give some first responder information, etc. It is a tool!

ChatGPT will do that for you. Is it worth $10 a month? Likely so when you consider how much time we spend writing. Perhaps if your skill at writing is not so good it can help you become a better writer — take what you wrote and have ChatGPT rewrite it for you.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.