Artificial Intelligence (the other AI)

As artificial intelligence tools continue to evolve and become more easily accessible, here are some guidelines for students on how they can and cannot use AI tools in their academic work: 

What exactly is AI?

ChatGPT and similar AI tools are large-language models (LLMs) that act as chatbots to answer questions or prompts that they receive. You probably already use this technology ever day if you use a smartphone. In academics, these tools are often prohibited when students use them in place of creating their own work. 

Why should I be concerned?

If you use ChatGPT or another AI to complete your assignments at UB, you may be in violation of academic integrity policies.  Please check with each individual instructor to understand their expectations on the uses of these technologies

What are the challenges inherent in AI?

AIs, like ChatGPT, often give misleading information, called a hallucination. However, they sound quite confident in their response, leading students to believe their accuracy.

Anything generated through these systems also then becomes part of the “brain” and knowledge base of the system itself. So, it can perpetuate incorrect knowledge, and it can also take your proprietary data and use it for its own purposes.

Additionally, AI is only capable of looking backward at a defined set of data; it is incapable of creating new or innovative ways of thinking.

What are the rules here at UB?

UB has no single rule about using AI. Every instructor has the academic freedom to decide if/when these technologies are permissible in their class. Please consult them and/or your syllabus, and never assume that it is allowed. If your professor doesn’t say anything, don’t use it.

What happens if I use an AI and it isn’t allowed?

You most likely will be charged with an academic integrity violation called Falsifying Academic Materials. This policy explains why this is a violation.

Why do faculty care about students using AI for their assignments?

Your faculty are trying to assess your understanding of a certain topic. If they are judging a computer’s output, they do not have a clear picture of what you know.

What’s the difference between just Googling it and using AI?

When you Google an idea, you will get many hits.  You still have to read the materials and discern what is important to include in your research and what is irrelevant. When you use ChatGPT, content is generated and no real thought occurs in the student’s brain, thus no learning occurs either.

Are there any times when using AI is allowed?

This ALWAYS depends on your professor’s policies; however, AI tools are most effective when used for idea generation, grammar-checking, and topics with which you are already familiar. They are least effective in terms of accuracy of content or innovative thinking.

My professor said I can use it, but how do I acknowledge it?

Remember that if your instructor allows use of an AI tool, you must cite where you’ve used it to be clear about what is your own work and what is not. As with any assistance, you must acknowledge it.

Besides AI, how can I get help with my assignments?

UB has many resources to assist you in your studies. These are free to use and typically allowed in any course.

Why is Grammarly an issue? I’ve always used it.

Grammarly was originally designed as a tool to check spelling and grammar usage. However, Grammarly now includes a generative artificial intelligence technology that can suggest heavy re-writes of material and/or create new text. That is an entirely different purpose. So while it is often acceptable to use Grammarly (or similar tools) to correct what you have written, it is usually NOT acceptable to have these tools re-write/re-generate text. Remember that your professor needs your assignment to demonstrate your competency in the subject matter so that you can be accurately assessed on what you know and can do.