Ethics and AI at Caltech
All Fall 2024 applicants will be asked to review Caltech's guidelines on the ethical use of AI before submitting their supplemental essays.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) research at Caltech is groundbreaking, and undergraduate students will encounter AI in a wide range of interdisciplinary applications.
Since 2018, Caltech's AI4Science (or Artificial Intelligence for Science) Initiative has provided training and access to modern AI tools so researchers across a wide range of disciplines, from economics to astrophysics, can harness the power of AI. In 2023, Caltech established the Center for Science, Society, and Public Policy to examine the intersection of science and society, facilitate discussion of scientific ethics, and help shape public science policy.
The Caltech community cares deeply about the ethical and social implications of AI technology, and this starts with the ethical use of AI by our undergraduate applicants.
The Undergraduate Faculty Admissions committee convened and have approved of the following ethical guidelines for the use of AI in the Fall 2024 application cycle. As access to AI continues to grow and the technology evolves, so will our recommendations and expectations for future application cycles.
Ethical Use of AI: Guidelines for Fall 2024 Applicants
Your essays are where we hear your voice. Relying on AI, specifically large language models such as ChatGPT or Bard, to craft your essay will dilute your unique expression and perspective. While we know AI tools have become readily accessible over recent months, overuse of AI will diminish your individual, bold, creative identity as a prospective Techer.
What are some examples of unethical uses of AI for Caltech admissions essays?
- Copying and pasting directly from an AI generator
- Relying on AI generated content to outline or draft an essay
- Replacing your unique voice and tone with AI generated content
- Translating an essay written in another language
What are some examples of ethical uses of AI for Caltech admissions essays?
- Using AI tools, like Grammarly or Microsoft Editor, to review grammar and spelling of your completed essays
- Generating questions or exercises to help kick start the brainstorming process
- Using AI to research the college application process
If you are still wondering whether your use of AI in crafting your application is ethical, ask yourself whether it would be ethical to have a trusted adult perform the same task you are asking of ChatGPT. Would a teacher be able to review your essay for grammatical and spelling errors? Of course! Would that same teacher write a draft of an essay for you to tweak and then submit? Definitely not.
Above all else, remember to be authentic to yourself when writing your essays. Our Caltech supplemental questions are designed to spark your curiosity, to make you think deeply about whether you see yourself as a Techer, and to jumpstart your creativity – don't let a reliance on AI tools take that opportunity from you!
Caltech students, faculty, and staff are guided by the Honor Code and policies of AI use as an academic tool by students will be determined by individual departments and/or individual faculty.
We are curious, just like you! Which is why we are asking the following question to Fall 2024 applicants.
Did you receive any AI generated assistance in the preparation of your application materials?
Please note, this information is confidential and will not be used in our review of your application. Answers to this question will never be used against a student. Caltech admissions readers will never have access to this information at any point in our review; in fact, we will not access this information until May 2024, after all admissions decisions have been made and the class of 2028 is finalized. We are simply curious about the use of AI in the admissions process.