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Use Generative Artificial Intelligence

What are Generative Artificial Intelligence tools?

Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) tools, like ChatGPT or Microsoft Copilot, are Large Language Models (LLMs) meant to predict text. They are trained on a large dataset of internet sources and analyze text (large language) to predict what word will likely come next.

How does it work?

GenAI tools work like a chatbot where you enter a question or prompt, and it responds. LLMs use mathematical models to generate text, images, videos, or music based on patterns learned from existing information.

Does it think?

No. GenAI responses can appear like the computer is thinking, but it is a language prediction model. It does not understand the answer it gives, nor does it choose to give you the best, most accurate information. Instead, its answer is based on what text will likely come next based on the sources it analyzed. Because it doesn't understand what it's saying, it cannot determine if its answer is accurate or true. It's also limited by the amount, quality, and context of the data it's been trained on.

Can you recommend a tool to use?

Unfortunately, no. The university currently does not endorse or recommend a specific tool because the list of GenAI tools and their effectiveness changes with breathtaking speed as the industry evolves. Additionally, which tool you choose will depend on your goal. Some tools are designed to create text, images, audio, or video, while others can be used to create or evaluate computer code or recommend similar articles based on a citation you enter.

We recommend using a search engine like Google to search for a list of GenAI tools and narrow your results to the most recent additions.

Can I use GenAI in my academic work?

It depends. You must act with academic integrity, honesty, fairness, respect, and responsibility when completing your academic work. Otherwise, you may encounter issues like plagiarism or cheating. Before using it, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has your instructor indicated its use is allowed? Have they set parameters for how it can be used?
  • Is the GenAI tool being used to do something you are being evaluated on? For example, if it is a writing assignment, you should not use it to create your essay, as that negates the point of the assignment.
  • Given the course objectives and grading rubric, does using GenAI violate academic integrity?
  • Are you comfortable revealing your use of GenAI to your instructor or university administrators?

UNESCO provides a flowchart that can also help you determine when to use GenAI. In this flowchart, UNESCO uses ChatGPT as the tool, but the flowchart applies to most GenAI tools.

It is possibly safe to use generative A I when you are able and willing to take full responsibility for missed inaccuracies and have the expertise to verify that the output is accurate.

Limitations and Additional Uses of GenAI

GenAI tools are rapidly changing and improving. However, before using one, it is crucial to consider its limitations and potential uses.

Limitations

  • False information (hallucinations or fabrications): GenAI has been programmed to respond, not be accurate. GenAI tools will also not always disclose where they're getting their information, making it hard to evaluate their accuracy and reliability. Even if you request the tools to provide citations, they are notorious for fabricating references.
  • Embedded bias: GenAI's outputs depend upon the inputs or datasets used to train it. Using the Internet as training data means that GenAI tools can replicate the same biases and stereotypes found on the Internet.
  • Limited information: Most GenAI tools, especially free ones, have not been trained on current information. For example, as of 2023, ChatGPT 3.5 (the free version) is only trained on content from the open web through December 2021. Check the developer notes for information on the currency of the data on which the LLM is trained.
    • As of April 2024, the tools have more knowledge of STEM than humanities topics.
    • LLM literature search tools (like Elicit or Research Rabbit) can't access the full range of articles behind a paywall (like those in academic library databases).
  • Privacy and copyright: Anything you submit to an LLM may become part of the learning data.
    • Submitting data or resources (like a journal article) could violate copyright laws or institutional policies regarding information sharing.
    • The LLM's privacy policies may allow the GenAI tool creators to profit from or share your personal information.
    • U.S. laws about AI-generated content are evolving, and tools used to identify GenAI content are ineffective.

Additional Uses

  • Writing: Brainstorm ideas, fight writer's block, organize your thoughts, and draft an outline for your essay or research topic
  • Simplifying concepts and ideas: Explain information in easier-to-understand language
  • Summarizing information: Paraphrasing and summarizing documents
  • Research: Provide a list of keywords or search terms for your research and help you format citations in a specific style, like APA
  • Illustrating: Generate images for your presentation or to help you illustrate your work
  • Translation: Translate documents into a different language
  • Study partner: Quiz you on topics and materials and prepare you for job interviews and other tasks
  • Coding: Generate new code or clean up existing code

Tips for Using GenAI

 Assess. Take the time to assess the GenAI tool’s responses critically. Because it lacks critical thinking skills, its responses may not be logical or based on facts.

 Explore. Do some exploratory work on a familiar topic to assess the quality of the tool’s replies.

 Cite. Cite your use of GenAI. You should cite anything created by someone else that isn’t your original thought or common knowledge. Please review the Center for Writing Excellence for examples and guidance.

 Ask. If in doubt, ask your instructor. They can tell you their preference for using GenAI tools in your work.

Evaluating GenAI