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 (yet) 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.
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?
- 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.
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
- 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.
- Ortez, Sabrina. What is ChatGPT and why does it matter? Here's what you need to know. ZDNet
- Fiesler, Casey. TikTok videos exploring ChatGPT and AI in higher education, such as this introductory video.
- 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
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.
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?
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.
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
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:
- ACM (Association For Computing Machinery) Digital LibraryFull text of most Association for Computing Machinery journals and proceedings since 1950. It also includes publications of affiliated organizations.
- Communication and Mass Media CompleteSearch for journal articles on topics such as communication, mass media, film, television, marketing, business communication, health communication, and more.
- Academic Search PremierA great place to start your research on any topic, search multidisciplinary, scholarly research articles. This database provides access to scholarly and peer reviewed journals, popular magazines and other resources. View this tutorial to learn how to go from a general idea to a very precise set of results of journal articles and scholarly materials.
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:
Sample of books available from the UMN Libraries
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence byISBN: 9783031122828Publication Date: 2023The new edition of this popular professional book on artificial intelligence (ML) and machine learning (ML) has been revised for classroom or training use. The new edition provides comprehensive coverage of combined AI and ML theory and applications. Rather than looking at the field from only a theoretical or only a practical perspective, this book unifies both perspectives to give holistic understanding. The first part introduces the concepts of AI and ML and their origin and current state. The second and third parts delve into conceptual and theoretic aspects of static and dynamic ML techniques. The fourth part describes the practical applications where presented techniques can be applied. The fifth part introduces the user to some of the implementation strategies for solving real life ML problems.
- Augmented education in the global age : artificial intelligence and the future of learning and work byISBN: 9781003230762Publication Date: 2023Augmented Education in the Global Age: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Learning and Work is an edited collection that explores the impact of Artificial Intelligence on learning and work, and how this emerging technology will transform and disrupt our current institutions. Chapters in this book discuss the history of technological revolutions and consider the anxieties and social challenges of lost occupations as well as the new economic and labor opportunities in the evolution of industries. Chapter authors unpack the nature of augmented education, from revamping curriculum and personalizing education, to redesigning learning spaces and redefining teaching in a computational era. Ultimately the book discusses policy and planning for an augmented future, arguing that education systems are undergoing a metamorphosis and will need to adapt in order to support competitive labor systems amid global competition and the race against automating technologies.
- Artificial Intelligence in Information and Communication Technologies, Healthcare and Education byISBN: 9781003342755Publication Date: 2022-12-27Artificial Intelligence in Information and Communication Technologies, Healthcare and Education: A Roadmap Ahead is designed as a reference text and discusses inter-dependability, communication and effective control for the betterment of services through artificial intelligence, as well as the challenges and path ahead for AI in computing and control across different domains of business and human life. The book accommodates technologies and application domains including backbone hardware, systems and methods for deployment, which help incorporating intelligence through different supervised and probabilistic learning approaches. Features The book attempts to establish a connection between hardware, software technologies and algorithmic intelligence for data analysis and decision support in domains such as healthcare, education and other aspects of business and mobility. It presents various recent applications of artificial intelligence in information and communication technologies such as search and optimization methods, machine learning, data representation and ontologies, and multi-agent systems. The book provides a collection of different case studies with experimentation results than mere theoretical and generalized approaches. Covers most of the applications using the trending technologies like AI/ML/DS, IoT and underlying information and communication technologies. The book is aimed primarily at advanced undergraduates and postgraduate students studying computer science, computer applications, and information technology. Researchers and professionals will also find this book useful.
- Human and machines : philosophical thinking of artificial intelligence byISBN: 9789811963056Publication Date: 2023This book shares Chinese scholars philosophical views on artificial intelligence. The discussions range from the foundations of AIthe Turing test and creation of machine intelligenceto recent applications of AI, including decisions in games, natural languages, pattern recognition, prediction in economic contexts, autonomous behaviors, and collaborative intelligence, with the examples of AlphaGo, Microsofts Xiao Bing, medical robots, etc. The books closing chapter focuses on Chinese machines and explores questions on the cultural background of artificial intelligence. Given its scope, the book offers a valuable resource for all members of the general public who are interested in the future development of artificial intelligence, especially from the perspective of respected Chinese scholars.
- Using AI for Dialoguing with Texts byISBN: 9781000806793Publication Date: 2022-11-18This concise volume offers an accessible introduction to state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) language models, providing a platform for their use in textual interpretation across the humanities and social sciences. The book outlines the affordances of new technologies for textual analysis, which has historically employed established approaches within the humanities. Neuman, Danesi, and Vilenchik argue that these different forms of analysis are indeed complementary, demonstrating the ways in which AI-based perspectives echo similar theoretical and methodological currents in traditional approaches while also offering new directions for research. The volume showcases examples from a wide range of texts, including novels, television shows, and films to illustrate the ways in which the latest AI technologies can be used for "dialoguing" with textual characters and examining textual meaning coherence. Illuminating the potential of AI language models to both enhance and extend research on the interpretation of texts, this book will appeal to scholars interested in cognitive approaches to the humanities in such fields as literary studies, discourse analysis, media studies, film studies, psychology, and artificial intelligence.