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1.5: Artificial Intelligence

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    Black Muslim woman looking ahead to the future

    (Image source: in new window), CC0)

    What is Generative AI (Artificial Intelligence)?

    A Friend

    AI is best treated like a friend. You can bounce ideas off of AI apps, but it's not okay to just copy content from them.

    Artificial Intelligence can be defined as "technology that enables computers and machines to simulate human intelligence and problem-solving capabilities"1. This does not mean that the AI tools we see being created today are truly thinking like people, but rather that they imitate some of the creative and problem-solving skills that humans have. Generative AI, is a special type of AI tool. Generative AI is used to create content such as text, images, audio, video, and more. Some people even use it to write letters or essays.

    Can you spot the problem with using AI to write an essay? Using AI improperly can:

    • Prevent you from learning skills and information you'll need later in the class
    • Hurt your grade in your class
    • Violate ethical standards and laws

    That last one can have the quickest repercussions. Using AI to create an entire writing assignment is plagiarism, or theft of information. It violates ethical standards and can result in a zero for an assignment or worse. Many teachers have techniques and/or tools for identifying AI work.

    Issues with Generative AI

    Some AI writing tools such as ChatGPT have known issues where the written information can be completely incorrect, biased, or include totally fake citations2. Many of these tools also have licenses that legally prohibit you from copying and using the content in different ways. These tools also copy other people's writing or art in order to "create" their content and many people view this as theft.

    However, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to avoid all AI tools! AI can be used ethically to help you in your daily life and even sometimes with assignments. So what can you do?

    1. Read your course Syllabus. A syllabus lays out the rules and expectations for a course. Many teachers are included AI statements that will provide information on what types of AI they will and will not allow in their class.
    2. Read the instructions for each assignment. Assignment instructions may mention tools that are allowed or expected to be used.
    3. Avoid using AI to complete an assignment (unless explicitly instructed to do so). Focus on using AI to help you. For example using:
      • Goblin.Tools to help you create to-do lists or judge the tone of your writing so that you can improve on it.
      • ChatPDF to analyze a scholarly article and summarize information from it.
      • Bing Chat to brainstorm ideas for an essay topic or get suggestions for related topics.
      • Grammarly to get suggestions for correcting your grammar while writing.

    Remember that AI can be a useful tool, but it is no substitute to learning how to do things yourself! Your course assignments are created to help you learn and you learn by doing.


    1. (n.d.). What is AI? in new window)
    2. The Writing Center (n.d.). Generative AI in Academic Writing. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. in new window)

    This page titled 1.5: Artificial Intelligence is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Daniel Wilson.

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