A fifth-year Limerick student won the top prize at BTYSTE this year with his author verification project in response to ChatGPT.

As Seán O’Sullivan walks down to the stage, he is shaking his head. He can’t believe he has just been announced as the overall winner of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) for 2024.

O’Sullivan impressed the judges with his timely project, VerifyMe, which uses stylistic analysis to identify the author of a text. In the era of rapidly advancing generative artificial intelligence (AI) such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, O’Sullivan has developed an accurate way to sort human from AI-generated content.

Speaking to SiliconRepublic.com, O’Sullivan said that current tools for identifying AI-generated text have been “quite ineffective” because the AI models use “paraphrasing and obfuscation techniques” to mimic a particular writer’s style.

“VerifyMe takes an alternative approach,” he said. By providing past examples of an author’s work, O’Sullivan’s stylistic analysis approach proved three times more accurate than currently available checking systems in predicting whether a new piece of text was from the same author.

O’Sullivan was shocked to have received the award against such impressive competition. “This is a surreal moment,” he said. “I honestly didn’t think I was going to win.”

“This event, the people here, the work that people are putting into their projects, it’s unparalleled.”

His enthusiasm for the event is clear. “For anybody that’s questioning, I would seriously encourage them to just take part in BT. There’s no such thing as the perfect project – it’s 1pc idea, 99pc iteration.”

BTYSTE is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. In that time, it has become one of the leading science and technology exhibitions in Europe. The 2024 event included 550 projects from more than 1,100 students hailing from 219 schools across the island of Ireland, with up to 14,000 students visiting the exhibition at the RDS in Dublin.


Words by Rebecca Graham