What is ChatGPT? How does it work?
Tools like ChatGPT or other artificial intelligence tools (specifically called large language models -LLMs) have been getting lots of headlines in the last few months. ChatGPT is an app created by a for-profit company called OpenAI. It was initially free but now has a subscription component. Other AI tools are Google Bard, Microsoft Bing AI and many more.
How do they work?
Unlike a search engine, which searches and then gives results using information already created -- LLMs are making "new" content predicting the word most likely to come next (e.g. based on HUGE dataset -- publicly available Internet sites (which includes racist, conspiracy sites, etc.) as of 2020). They are designed to model human language and use mathematical models to predict what the next word is most likely to be based on what you you are asking for. Keep in mind -- they don't think. They do NOT understand, read, choose or give you the "best information." Sometimes it might feel or seem like it but it is but this isn't how the technology works.
- It is often wrong or incorrect or there is mix of accurate and inaccurate information or misinformation
- Doesn't have current information or context (using 2020 dataset)
- Free vs. fee version (so who has access to the technology and who doesn't)
- Content it is using likely is biased
- Privacy concerns -- what is the company doing with the data it collects from users?
- Can help with giving simple explanations
- Can provide a sample text
- Can create a list of keywords or possible search terms
- Can give correct information for material that isn't controversial and that has been written about a lot
Is using it cheating? What about plagiarism?
Since there are many ways to use ChatGPT -- the answer on whether using it is cheating is it DEPENDS. Although there are not "new" policies about its use per se -- using (e.g. copy/paste) texts or code that is created by ChatGPT, for example, is covered under the UMN Student Conduct Code on Academic Dishonesty. As of late spring 2023 -- the University created statements that faculty could include in the course syllabus (or modify it) - here are some examples "syllabus statements" from UMN.
Plagiarism is defined in the Conduct Code as Plagiarism, "representing the words, creative work, or ideas of another person as one’s own without providing proper documentation of source." Those some students might point out that "words" created by a a tool like ChatGPT isn't a "person" -- these arguments miss the intent of the policy. The bottom line is YOUR INSTRUCTOR will determine whether it is a violation of academic dishonesty. If you aren't sure, ASK YOUR INSTRUCTOR for clarity.
When should I "cite" ChatGPT? As a source? Or tell my instructor or others I am using it?
- If you are doing research ABOUT ChatGPT or other tools and using it is the topic and want to include example -- then yes you should cite it like any other source or evidence (e.g. in APA or MLA style). Or if you are using it to help analyze texts or using it as a tool -- include information on how you are using it in your assignment.
- If you are using ChatGPT to help with background research, to create outlines, select keywords, etc. -- you should likely check with your instructor about their class policies.
- In general -- don't use Chat GPT as a "source" of information because it is often wrong or mixes correct and incorrect information. It isn't (yet) considered a credible source for academic research and writing.
- If you are using it to process text or data and creating materials that you later use or turn in as assignments or if you are using it to "create" content like text or code or writing -- you likely should discuss how you are using it in your assignments.
- There are many legitimate and useful ways to use ChatGPT -- just be sure you are being transparent and sharing that you are using it as a tool with your instructors, lab partners, group members, advisors, peer tutors, career services staff, etc.
- In general, if you are "hiding" that you are using -- that might a sign you are using it in a not good way.
Where can I get questions answered?
- Check with your instructor - they are the best person to give you advice in how you can or can't use it in your classes
- Check your syllabus - here are some examples "syllabus statements" from UMN
- UMN Office of Community Standards
- UMN Center for Writing
- UMN Student Conflict Resolution Center
- your academic advisor
- your career center professionals can give you advice on using it for cover letters, applications, etc.
- UMN Libraries can help with finding sources, evaluating and other research techniques.
Impacts for college students (and professors)
Here are a few places to learn more about this technology and its impacts on college students and universities.
- MN Daily - Podcast - Episode 123: Artificial Intelligence in Education
The Minnesota Daily sat down with CSE professors to explore the rising trend of ChatGPT and its implications in the field of education.
- A Generative AI Primer, May 11, 2023 from Jisc (UK)
- Ortez, Sabrina. What is ChatGPT and why does it matter? Here's what you need to know. ZDNet
- Discussing ChatGPT and Writing with Students (UMN Writing Across the Curriculum)
- Fiesler, Casey. TikTok videos exploring ChatGPT and AI in higher education, such as this introductory video.
- Inara, Scott. April 18, 2023. "Yes, we are in a (ChatGPT) crisis" Inside Higher Ed.
- Metzler, Katie. December 7, 2022. “How ChatGPT Could Transform Higher Education.” Social Science Space.
- Warner, John. December 5, 2022. “Freaking Out About ChatGPT—Part I.” Inside Higher Ed.
- Watkins, Marc. December 14, 2022. “AI Will Augment, Not Replace.” Inside Higher Ed.
- Wellborn, Aaron. March 9, 2023. "ChatGPT and Fake Citations."
- Bowman, Emma. December 19, 2022. “A new AI chatbot might do your homework for you. But it's still not an A+ student.” National Public Radio.
- What students are saying about ChatGPT. New York Times, Feb. 2, 2023
- Collection of articles on Artificial Intelligence (AI) from EDUCAUSE
- Shannon Bond, June 13, 2023. "AI-generated images are everywhere. Here's how to spot them" from National Public Radio.
- Choi, Jonathan H. and Hickman, Kristin E. and Monahan, Amy and Schwarcz, Daniel B., ChatGPT Goes to Law School (January 23, 2023). Journal of Legal Education.
- What is Social Justice and How Can AI Help Achieve It? from USC Center for AI in Society, 2019.
- Sample, Ian. Programs to detect AI discriminate against non-native English speakers, shows study from the Guardian, 2023.
Sample of checkers
In response to these tools, there are now other tools which claim to detect AI or plagiarism.
- Turnitin is a tool integrated with Canvas which UMN instructors can chose to use for an assignment
- AI Content Detector from Copyleaks.com
- Winston AI
- Correct AI App Detector (give you a fake%)
Criticisms of the technology
Here are a few places to learn more about the limitations and criticisms of this technology:
- Marks, Andrea. 2023. Bestiality and Beyond: ChatGTP Works Because Underpaid Workers Read About Horrible Things. Rolling Stone.
- Bogost, Ian. 2022. ChatGPT Is Dumber Than You Think Treat it like a toy, not a tool. The Atlantic
- Aomuoh, Fionna. 2023. The 6 biggest problems with ChatGPT right now. DigitalTrends.
- Perrigo, Billiy. 2023. OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less Than $2 Per Hour to Make ChatGPT Less Toxic. Time.
- David, Emilia. 2022. Viral chatbot ChatGPT will be overhyped, then overlooked, and then, perhaps, essential. Business Insider.
- McQuinllan, Dan. 2023. ChatGPT Is a Bullshit Generator Waging Class War. Vice.
Ask yourself! Questions to ask about this evolving technology
- What do you think of these tools? Have you used or experimented with it? Why or Why not?
- How do tools like ChatGPT work?
- Where does the data comes from?
- Who gains when we use tools like this?
- How do these tools generate text patterns and not meaning? Are they creative?
- What biases do they contain?
- Do you think it is the game-changer that many seem to believe it is?
- What does it mean if we are at a point when the tool can create human-like content that isn't actually created by humans?
- What are the potential implications for research? Education? Work? The Arts? Music?
- What do tools like this mean for future education and work?
- What questions do you have about these tools?
Impacts on research or science
Here are a few places to learn more as they apply to research that faculty or students might do :
- Hill-Yardin, E., Hutchinson, M., Laycock, R., & Spencer, S. (2023). A Chat(GPT) about the future of scientific publishing. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 110, 152-154.
- Illia, Laura, et al. “Ethical Implications of Text Generation in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.” Business Ethics, the Environment & Responsibility, vol. 32, no. 1, 2023, pp. 201–10.
- Manjoo, F. (2020, Jul 30). How Do You Know a Human Wrote This?: [Op-Ed]. New York Times.
Biswas, S. (2023). Role of Chat GPT in Public Health. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, Annals of biomedical engineering, 2023.
Thunström, Almira Osmanovic. June 30, 2022. “We Asked GPT-3 to Write an Academic Paper about Itself—Then We Tried to Get It Published.” Scientific American.
Impacts on creatives and creators
Here are a few places to learn more as they apply to the arts, music, images, video, etc.
- Joe Coscarelli, April 19, 2023. "An A.I. Hit of Fake ‘Drake’ and ‘The Weeknd’ Rattles the Music World" from New York Times
- July 11, 2023. "Ask the Expert: What are legal issues surrounding AI, its impact on the arts?" from Indiana University
- Erik Uebelacker. July 9, 2023. "Sarah Silverman Sues ChatGPT Creator for Copyright Infringement" from the Daily Beast.
- Clare Hutchinson & Phil John. July 20, 2023. "AI: Digital artist's work copied more times than Picasso" from BBC News.
- Adam Hencz. "AI-Generated Art Controversy: The Future of Creativity or a Replacement for Human Talent?" from Artland Magazine.
- Sara Shaffi, January 23, 2023. ‘It’s the opposite of art’: why illustrators are furious about AI" from the Guardian.
Tips for doing research ABOUT ChatGPT
Artificial intelligence and tools like ChatGPT are a fascinating research topic. Here are a few tips as you work on finding sources and learning more about these tools.
Example keywords or search terms:
- artificial intelligence or ai
- large language models
- generative ai
- machine learning
- Language models
- ethics or bias
- Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF)
- content moderation
- ghost workers
- artificial general intelligence
- AI generated images
- AI watermarking
- AI generated music
- ai generated art
One way to narrow this topic could be to consider how it impacts certain parts of life. For example:
- Law and legal
- Healthcare and medicine
- Business or employment
- Education and learning
- Publishing and writing
- Communication studies
- and more
Suggested databases to search for sources:
Sample of books available from the UMN Libraries
Where can I get more help?
Ask your instructors and professors. It is your responsibility to get clarity.
Here are some more experts on campus who can help answer questions: