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Artificial Intelligence & Research : Introduction

Welcome to the Guide

This guide provides basic background information on generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools and general guidance on how these tools can or can't assist with conducting research.

This guide DOES NOT provide information on how to use AI in individual classes or for specific assignments. Always follow the guidelines your instructor provides if you are concerned about whether using AI is considered academic dishonesty or plagiarism.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) are computer systems that perform tasks that used to require human intelligence to complete.

AI programs are NOT self-aware and cannot think in the same way a human does. Instead of saying that AIs read, write, summarize, or understand content, it's useful to think of them as tools that "generate" or "produce" content based on patterns.

Some useful vocabulary for understanding how these tools work:

Machine learning: An approach to programming that has computers train themselves based on a large set of data (text, images, video, audio, etc). Examples of technology that rely on machine learning include facial recognition software and product recommendations in online shopping. Machine learning is a subset of the larger AI field.

Generative AI: Tools that generate text, images, music, etc based on their set of training data. For example, if you trained a generative AI by uploading every Star Trek script and asked it to write a new episode it would use predictive text (like your cell phone autocomplete) to produce a script by grouping words that appear together frequently. Examples of generative AIs include ChatGPT, Bard, Dall-e, Grammerly, and the autocomplete features on your cell phone or email.

Large Language Model (LLM): A type of generative AI that is trained on massive amounts of text to generate writing based on what words often appear near each other. ChatGPT is an example.

Chatbot: A way of interacting with generative AIs/LLMs. Software that is meant to create the impression that you’re having a conversation with the computer system. Examples include Siri and Alexa, customer service chat pop-ups on many websites, and ChatGPT (again).

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