ChatGPT and other AI tools

Learn about ChatGPT. This is an intro to using and citing Language Learning Models, but they change fast!

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence language model, similar to a chatbot, but more robust.

ChatGPT is not a search engine where you are given a set of results to a specific search, but instead it creates “new content” by predicting the word most likely to come next (e.g. based on HUGE dataset -- publicly available Internet sites as of 2020).

Language Learning Models (LLMs), like ChatGPT, 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 are asking for.

Keep in mind: they don't think. They don't understand, read, choose or give you the "best information." Sometimes it might feel or seem like it, but this isn't how the technology works. That said, they also won't tell you where they got the information they're pulling from, and who is doing the work behind the scenes. Many, if not most, are unregulated and influenced by how we all interact with it. 

How does ChatGPT work?

ChatGPT and other LLMs continue to evolve.

One main way users interact with ChatGPT is to ask it a question, or give it a prompt and receive a quick answer.

This transcript features an interaction between ChatGPT and one of our UMN Librarians as well as an accompanying video of the process


Challenges and possibilities of ChatGPT

Challenges of using ChatGPT or other LLMs in your coursework

  • There is a mix of correct and incorrect information
  • Has limited knowledge of the world after 2020 (WHOA! Things have happened since then, right?)
  • Likelihood of biased content is high.

Benefits of using ChatGPT or other LLMs in your coursework

  • Can provide simple explanations to well known, non-controversial topics
  • Can provide sample text
  • Can create a list of keywords, search terms
Last Updated: Apr 27, 2023 12:08 PM