How To Use Google Docs Secret Feature to Detect AI Content Writing

The emergence of AI, particularly ChatGPT has elevated the the bar of intelligence, with the unprecedented ability to collect information, and make logical sense, something that even humans may find difficult to do. AI tools have tremendously helped people from different walks of life and professions with greater productivity, creative thinking, and innovative solutions. But at the same time, such tools have made us too dependent upon them, almost making our brains rot and dusty.

In retaliation to AI tools, mainly ChatGPT, many people have pushed the development of software to prevent AI use in different professions and job spaces, mainly those that require creativity, whether it be, content writing, news reporting, office presentations, sales pitches, or graduation speeches.

Software like GPTZero and OrignalityAI have successfully ensured and fulfilled their task to accurately detect AI written ratio. However, these tools are not totally free, as they require paid subscriptions after the use of free credits and points.

But do not worry, in this article, we will guide you how to use Google Docs to detect AI in any writing without using any paid tool. Before going into the details, an overview of this method is that the person whose AI you want to detect must use Google Docs (from scratch) and they must share the editable doc version with you, which will allow you to see all their past history of changes in the document and if AI is used, then it will appear in large blocks with fewer edits and short timeline (i.e. hundreds of words in just few minutes or seconds, which is something an authentic human writer mostly don't do).

Note, if the writer is using any other content editor and pasting content from other platforms then this method is not going to help in AI detection, so it is advised that students and writers stick to only Google Docs for their all writing work from zero with ideally just 1 device and user id, so that it could produce an inspectable editing history, which will help editors see how the content is produced.

So, here is the detailed explanation of how to use Google Docs to detect AI written content, weather you are a educator, teacher or a person who manages team of content writers.

Step 1:

The writer should share the editable Google Doc version with you (if you are a content manager).

This is done by looking at the top right corner (on PC devices), where you’ll find the Share button with a lock icon on its. While same can be done on mobile devices but with just a little bit of variation in settings/appearance.

Uncover AI-Written Text with Google Docs' Edit Tracking

Click on share, a new window will pop up, in the new window under the "General Access" section click on the "Restricted" dropdown menu, and change it "Anyone with the link".

Now with the updated permission setting the Doc. file can be viewed by anyone, but outsiders can only view that Doc and can't edit it or see its history. Now we need to adjust the role setting. Which is available right next to the "Anyone with the link" option as "Viewer".

Google Docs reveals AI writing by tracking edits: large text blocks with few changes signal AI.

Click on "Viewer" drop down option and then select "Editor" role. Once the Editor is selected, click on the copy link to save it on a clipboard and share it with the person responsible for auditing the content. (These were the instruction a writer/student or anyone creating the content should follow to make the Doc. file viewable and editable).

Step 2:

This step is for managers or teachers who want to know if AI has been used in their work or not.
First, you must access the Google Doc file by clicking on the link provided by the author/writer. Then go to the top left corner and select the File dropdown option, now find/select "Version history" and then click on See version history. Alternatively, you can quickly access this with a keyboard shortcut "Ctrl + Alt + Shift + H" on windows and "⌘ + Option + Shift + h" on mac devices.  

Using Google Docs to detect AI: version history shows quick, unedited content typical of AI.

Upon selecting it on the right-hand side, the previous version history will pop up, allowing you to see all the changes a writer made.

How To Use Google Docs Secret Feature to Detect AI

Now, coming to the most important point of how AI content can be detected. Well, it's pretty simple. An AI-generated work (most of the time) will not have a major version history since no (or very few) edits would have been made, and all the paragraphs will show all at once as if it has been copied and pasted. This will be a direct indication that writers or students have used AI.
On other side, a legit human crafted article or paper will show a detailed timeline of edits, which ideally shows several revisions, typos, and grammar mistakes made from start to finish, followed by the process of error fixation. Google Docs is good at recording and showing this in the history timeline Below is an example of an authentic document, more likely written by a human. 

Google Docs' Version history feature is a handy tool that can help content managers and educators detect AI patterns in student's assignments and writer's tasks. Human writers mostly have a decent history of edits and timeline that shows paragraph by paragraph movement (with appropriate time duration) and error fixations along the way, while most of the AI generated content lacks such editing history as it shows no or very few versions in timeline, with nearly no errors or fixation in the process.

It's important to note that if you are a new content editor or manager it might take you some time to understand how the Google Doc's Version history works and how you can use to discern human or an AI pattern. For context, it works just like a Layers and History option of Adobe Photoshop or any other modern photo editing tool, in Photoshop the layers panel lists all the objects while history panel help users go back and forth in time to restore their desired work at anytime. Just like that Google Doc's Version history feature helps user restore any previously added/removed text. However, in our case we can use to detect if writers/students are being honest with their use of AI-written content. 

While using AI software like ChatGPT for tasks that enhance human productivity should be encouraged—such as brainstorming ideas, improving rewriting structures, or quickly summarizing long documents—the mindless use (or abuse) of artificial intelligence chatbots and other tech tools is a significant problem. It corrupts human morality and critical thinking abilities.

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