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Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Language Models: AI Literacy

What is AI generated text?

AI language learning models are computer programs that can generate natural language texts based on some input, such as a prompt, a question, or a keyword. Some examples of AI language learning models are ChatGPT, BERT, and GPT-3. These models are trained on large amounts of text data from various sources, such as books, articles, websites, and social media posts. They use deep neural networks to learn the patterns and rules of natural language, and then use them to produce new texts that are coherent, relevant, and sometimes creative.

Text-based Generative AI tools can use artificial intelligence to summarize data and provide answers quickly and efficiently; it has and can be used for creating content for websites or social media, generating reports or articles, and even writing creative works such as stories or poems. These tools can be useful when you are brainstorming topic ideas or trying to come up with keywords to use to search on a specific topic. Remember that these tools are NOT sources of knowledge -- they are fluency-based text-language generators ("large language models"), which means that they literally guess what word comes next. To understand when these tools are most (and least) useful, please scroll to the bottom of the page.

What do I need to know?

As many know by now, one of the biggest flaws of AI language models is that they make stuff up and present falsehoods as facts. This makes them unsuitable for tasks where accuracy is extremely important, but at the same time, presents opportunities for important discussions about misinformation and bias.

What can ChatGPT, Bard, or Bing do? They can help you get ideas for how to begin your research and search for scholarship. It can suggest keywords, search strings, and format citations. You can prompt ChatGPT to be more specific in one or more areas, but note that the same will happen - a mix of good ideas, wrong ideas, and overly broad suggestions. Do not trust or accept citations that are suggested by any AI program- track down and verify every source that is mentioned.

There are better alternatives to ChatGPT for academic research, instead try Perplexity AI or Elicit AI. For example, ChatGPT has very limited knowledge of events that happened after 2021 and does not have the ability to cite its sources to the extent that Perplexity AI can. 

When to Use and Not Use Gen AI Tools

What are AI Tools good for? What are AI Tools NOT good for?

Generating ideas for related concepts, terms, and keywords about a topic

  • “I need to write a paper on conscious capitalism, what are some good paper topics? What keywords should I use when I search?”

Lists of articles or sources for a topic

  • "Give me a list of articles that I can use for my research paper on global warming and rising sea levels."

Suggestions for resources or databases to use for research

  • “Where should I start my research for a paper on the connection between interest rates and inflation?”

A summary of a specific article or book

  • Summarize this article, "An efficient methodology for modeling complex computer codes with Gaussian processes," for me

Suggestions for improving writing

  • “Does this paragraph sound grammatically correct? How can I word this sentence better?"

Knowledge of current events

  • What happened at the May 2023 G7 Summit that took place in Japan?