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Generative Artificial Intelligence for Students

Before we begin...

Generative artificial intelligence is fundamentally changing how we find, create, and share information. These AI tools are evolving quickly, with new details emerging daily regarding their use, regulation, and societal impact.  

While efforts will be made to maintain the relevance and currency of this guide, it's important to acknowledge that the information contained within may become outdated before we can update it. 

The LAVC Library does not endorse any specific AI technologies, and advises students to exercise discretion regarding the disclosure of personal information while using such tools. 

A Very Brief Introduction

Generative artificial intelligence is a complicated set of technologies. While it's not necessary to have a deep knowledge of how these technologies work to use AI tools, it's helpful to have a basic understanding of some fundamental concepts.

  • Generative AI refers to technology that can create new content, such as text, images, code, audio, or video. 
  • Put very simply, AI text generators work by predicting the next word in a sequence. They do not "understand" your questions in the way that another person would.
  • AI text generators, such as ChatGPT, are trained on a large amount of text scraped from the Internet. This training is supplemented by annotation and feedback testing done by humans.  AI image generators, such as Midjourney and DALL-E are trained in a similar way.
  • With some exceptions, we don't have a lot of information about how the models that drive these tools were trained. That means that, in most cases, users have no way of knowing what information an AI tool has had access to. 
  • Many other applications are being developed that make use of generative AI technology. In fact, AI technology is already at work in many of the tools that you use.

Adapted from JISC. Generative AI - a Primer

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