April 23, 2015
Written by Christie Zervos, VP of Operations, Caveon Test Security
International chess grandmaster Gaioz Nigalidze began rising through the ranks of professional chess in 2007, the same year the very first iPhone came out. Looking back now, these two events might not be coincidental.
On Saturday, April 11, 2015, Nigalidze, the reigning Georgian champion, was discovered covertly using an iPhone, hidden in a bathroom stall, to cheat in an International chess tournament. Nigalidze was discovered after his opponent became suspicious of his frequent trips to the same bathroom stall, after almost every move. Upon inspection, administrators discovered an iPhone hidden in the toilet paper. Nigalidze denied that the device was his, but administrators alleged that the phone was logged into Nigalidze's social media accounts.
Of course, this wouldn't be the first instance of cheating in the competitive world of sports. That being said, cheating with computers is very different than traditional cheating methods. For example, let’s consider cheating in sports with performance-enhancing steroids: Take a random kid from St. Louis and add a dose of performance-enhancing steroids to the mix and what do you get? Fortunately, you still have some random kid from St. Louis (albeit with some more impressive deltoids, probably). The kid might be stronger, but he's still not even close to a Mark McGwire. Conversely, take a random kid from St. Louis and give him the chess app on a tablet or smartphone: you've just found yourself the new international chess grandmaster.
Computer-assisted cheating exceeds any kind of cheating our culture has experienced in the past. It truly lets cheaters completely bypass all practice, talent, intelligence, and effort. It gives the least of the competitors an immediate, absolute advantage. Modern cheating where technological prowess replaces human performance is cheating on steroids – or, I should say, on iPhones.
Because artificial intelligence engines (e.g., chess apps) have advanced to the point that human decision-making can be replaced by machines, well-respected thought leaders, including Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, and Elon Musk, have rung warning bells. Thus, it should be no surprise we are concerned that computer-assisted humans can cheat on tests and produce completely invalid results, without us being the wiser. It means, as an industry, we face a serious threat to the reliability and integrity of methods developed over the course of centuries to measure human capacity. Being at the forefront of test security, Caveon actively researches how technology can validate test results and detect those which have been falsified through cheating using technology or traditional means.