This blog post explains everything you need to know about the use of AI in your studies at the University of Vienna.
Everybody has been talking about artificial intelligence (AI) tools since the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022. (Most) AI tools are available for free, highly effective, user-friendly and have thus made their way to mainstream society. As is the case with all technical innovations, there are many questions about the use, limits and potentials of the new tools – also at the University of Vienna. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) provides information about the weaknesses of AI tools and about handling them in a responsible way. Please note that this area is developing rapidly. This text therefore only serves to provide initial information.
How do AI tools work?
AI tools are controlled via so-called prompts, i.e. the input of instructions. By chatting with the AI tool, users can generate texts, make translations, create graphics, make calculations or write program code.
ChatGPT and Bing are text generators, which output one word after the other based on complex statistics. This sounds easy but requires multi-stage training of the AI tool using large amounts of data as well as human feedback.
Weaknesses of text generators, such as ChatGPT, etc.
Despite being highly efficient, text generators (still) have some weaknesses:
- Do not rely on the results blindly: Text generators generate answers based on statistical probabilities. Therefore, information and evidence may be invented, which is called a ‘hallucination’. Furthermore, AI tools are not able to critically scrutinise their training data and thus reproduce biases in the form of stereotypes, biases and discriminatory representations.
- Fluency of speech is often associated with intelligence – do not let yourself be blinded by well-written texts.
- ChatGPT, etc. are text generators and not search engines: When using text generators, please note that these tools have been trained based on a limited knowledge base which may not (yet) contain the latest information.
- Most AI tools are not compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and use the users’ input as training data. Therefore, carefully consider what you enter into the system and, in general, treat personal data carefully. To create a ChatGPT account, you have to provide your name, date of birth and mobile phone number.
Responsible use of AI, also in your studies
- AI tools can facilitate and accelerate work processes. To be able to assess the quality of AI results and, if necessary, revise the output, you require a set of competences.
- You are always responsible for the results, regardless of how you use AI tools during your studies. Therefore, always check the output generated by AI.
- Last but not least: The use of AI tools is neither generally permitted nor generally prohibited at the University of Vienna. The teachers decide whether you may or may not use AI tools in their courses. Therefore, inform yourself when and under which conditions you may use AI as an aid for courses and exams.
- Wide range of learning materials to acquire basic knowledge: https://ki-campus.org/
- Helpful video with Michael Kipp on prompting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfl7q1llkso&t=5s