Skip to Main Content

Generative Artificial Intelligence for Students

What is ChatGPT?

One of the most popular AI tools being used today is ChatGPT, a "chatbot" that answers questions and prompts in any format that you request. It can carry out a human-like conversation or write various content such as articles, social media posts, essays, emails, and even code. Watch the video below [1:22] for more info. 

Warning: ChatGPT is NOT a Search Engine

decorative: robot holding a phone with a search bar in the skyAlthough ChatGPT can deliver answers to questions in a way that feels similar to Google, it's important to understand that...

  • the free version of ChatGPT does not have real-time access to the Internet.
  • free ChatGPT doesn't refer to, quote from, or recall information from specific/actual sources.
  • it will appear to cite sources if you ask it to, but it does not actually "read" or "understand" these sources. In some situations, ChatGPT will make up entirely fake citations, sometimes called "hallucinations." 
    • Even chatbots that are connected to the Internet -- like Gemini, Copilot, and paid versions of ChatGPT -- can still have hallucinations and deliver false information. 

Source: Brown University Library

List of Limitations

As any technology evolves, there will be weaknesses that need to be considered and impact how it can be used. These faults can also be improved as the tools are continuously developed and trained, so these limitations may change. 

Generative AI and tools such as ChatGPT suffer from these downsides:

  • Inaccuracies or "hallucinations": There are many reports of false information in responses. This includes "fake" or "made up" citations when ChatGPT was asked to provide a list of sources on a topic. For an example of these hallucinations, read this brief article
  • Potential downtimes: There may be times when is is unavailable due to many people using it at one time.
  • Not up to date: Unless the tool is actively connected to the web, it will not be trained on current information which will impact its responses. 
  • Bias of the training material: Since the tools are trained on materials written by biased humans, the response may also be biased in some way.
  • Transparency of information/source evaluation: We are not able to know exactly what it is being trained on, or the validity of that information.
  • Ethical concerns: AI companies may be training their tools on copyrighted material and/or without the permission of the people that originally created the information. 
  • Information behind paywalls: For those tools that do access the web for material, it still cannot access quality data that may be behind a paywall. 
  • Limits on political conversations: Due to its capabilities to be used for nefarious purposes, many generative AI tools have "guardrails" which prevent it from answering certain types of questions, including those related to politics and other sensitive topics. 
  • Environmental impact: the massive sever farms required to maintain these tools can have a negative effect on the environment with regards to climate change. 

Source: Pace University Library

List of Popular AI Chatbots


Open AI
Free, built on GPT-3.5
No web search results. Trained on data only through January 2022.

As of April 2024, you can use it without creating an account.

ChatGPT plus logo ChatGPT Plus

Open AI
$20/mo, built on GPT-4

  • a "browse with Bing" feature that allows it to search for information on websites
  • Advanced Data Analysis" (formerly Code Interpreter)
  • GPT4-Vision (for uploading images and discussing them)
  • Image generation with DALL-E 3.

(as of Nov. 6, 2023: all these features combined into "all tools.")

A new feature for building chatbots without using code. These are called "GPTs."
(available to Plus users only)

Enterprise edition for large businesses. Teams account for small business.

Microsoft Copilot logo Microsoft Copilot Microsoft
Free, built on GPT-4 (If you use Creative mode, Balanced mode = GPT3.5)
Generate images with DALL-E 3 using 
Bing Image Creator or Microsoft Designer

Includes web search results from Bing Search.

Copilot Pro Plan with more features for individuals.
Copilot for Microsoft 365 with more features for institutions and businesses.
Gemini logo Gemini
(formerly Bard)
Free, built on 
Gemini Pro (as of Dec. 6, 2023)
Includes web search results from Google.

Gemini Advanced is built on Gemini Ultra ($20/mo)
Anthropic logo Claude Anthropic
Free. Also available in 
Built on their own model: Claude 3 Sonnet.
Pro version ($20/mo) is based on Claude 3 Opus.

Focused on 
reliability and safety.
No web search results. Trained on data through August 2023.
Perplexity logo Perplexity AI Perplexity
Free, built on GPT-3.5. 
Includes web search results. Offers "Focus" choices such as YouTube, Reddit, Semantic Scholar, and Wolfram|Alpha.

You can use it without creating an account.

Source: University of Arizona Libraries

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.