LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In a matter of seconds, a website powered by artificial intelligence can generate an essay based off of what it's prompted, and it's on the radar of Louisville colleges.

ChatGPT, invented by San Francisco-based OpenAI, launched Nov. 30, 2022. It is a free website that can generate text on demand based on what it has learned from a database of books, online writings and other medias.

Ask it to write an essay on the history between UofL and UK's basketball rivalry? It will tell you it's "one of the most storied and intense rivalries in college basketball" and how "off the court, the rivalry extends to the fans, who take great pride in their respective schools."

A 100-word essay on the Kentucky Derby? It will tell you how it is known for "its extravagant hats, mint juleps, and fast-paced action," and that it is part of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing.

Ask it to write a 500-word essay based off one of the Common Application essay prompts? It will do that. And that's why it is on college radars.

However, it is not all bad news for the University of Louisville or Bellarmine University.

“I think it's kind of neat and alarming and exciting at the same time," said Jon Blandford, director of Bellarmine's Honors Program.

Before ChatGPT's existence, Bellarmine actually began taking a different approach to the essay portion of its honors program admission process. Instead of asking students to write an essay, the university began asking students to submit videos, websites, photographs, or projects that display an important moment in their life, coupled with a short reflection on how it represents the school's core values. 

"ChatGPT is pretty good at synthesizing and regurgitating information, but it's not super good at approximating a real human being and all of his or her or their fullness and roundness and complexity, and that's kind of what we're getting," Blandford said.

U of L said its scholarship committees have always paid attention to alternative ways students may have written their essay, and ChatGPT is no exception.

"They've always been looking for students that might have had a parent write an essay for them, right, might have paid, you know a professional writer," said Jenny Sawyer, UofL's executive director of undergraduate admissions. "They kind of said, you know, let's pay a little bit more attention to this this year."

UofL said it has not made any drastic changes to its admissions process because of the technology, but plans to continue paying close attention during its next few rounds of applications. 

"I think it's going to take people digging in, using it, seeing it, and then having some honest conversations about how do we adjust our policy and do we specifically refer to AI generated content," Sawyer said.

Both university representatives said the way the technology could be beneficial is the way it directs students to resources and helps outline the beginning of an essay.

When asked for news articles related to the recent earthquake in Turkey, the website prompted five news articles from a variety of national outlets.

"We can embrace it as a tool, as an innovation, I mean we're going to have to because it's coming, it's here, its arrived, it's like a calculator I suppose," Blandford said.

WDRB News asked Jefferson County Public Schools if the district has taken any measures to discourage or incorporate ChatGPT. In a statement, a district spokesperson said:

"We make every effort to stay informed about emerging technologies and how they might impact our students’ learning, positively or negatively. To date, we have not had any concerns expressed to us about ChatGPT. We have not moved to restrict JCPS students’ access to ChatGPT but we are constantly reviewing all websites, chatbots and other technologies to determine their value to student learning."

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