Unicheck unveils Emma, an AI agent that stops cheating at universities

Unicheck unveils Emma, an AI agent that stops cheating at universities

Max Smolaks

September 28, 2019

2 Min Read

They have tackled plagiarism; next on the list is contract cheating

by Max Smolaks 27 September 2019

Cyprus-based startup Unicheck has released Emma,an AI agent that can verify the authorship of academic texts, hoping to stampout cheating in universities.

Automated plagiarism checks in academia arenothing new: this journalist remembers the dread of summitting his university assignmentsto an automated system a decade ago. However, traditional anti-plagiarism toolsare unable to detect instances when the student simply paid someone else to dothe work – and thanks to the Internet, essay and even dissertation writing hasbecome a booming industry.

It is hiding in plain sight too – a quick search for “essay writing” on popular odd jobs website Fiverr returns more than 2,000 offers for this frowned upon, but not illegal, service.

By using machine learning, Emma can pick upon the student’s individual style, vocabulary and sentence structure – helping weedout academic cheaters with a lot of spare cash.

“Pressure to succeed often pushes studentsto cut corners and resort to contract cheating. Academic writing services coveranything from compiling a PhD thesis to a one-page essay,” said Serhii Tkachenko,CEO at Unicheck. “We have released Emma to encourage students to develop theirown voice.”

Unicheck (formerly Unplag) has been developingcloud-based plagiarism detection tools since 2014, comparing submitted texts againstweb pages, open source repositories, and the user's internal library.

Usingnatural language processing (NLP) and stylometry technologies to verifyauthorship is a new direction for the company. The AI-based assistant requires threetexts with a word count ranging between 300-1,000 to study the individual’s writing voice. It can then decidewhether anyfurther submissions were written by the same person.

Emmais available as part of Unicheck’s Originality Report, the software suite usedby more than 1,000 educational organizations worldwide. The company says that no manual work or programming of any kind is required to configure thenew algorithm-based system.

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