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Generative AI

What is Generative AI?

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to a subset of AI that involves creating or generating new content or data, such as text, images, or music, based on a set of patterns or rules. Unlike traditional AI, which relies on pre-existing data to make decisions or predictions, generative AI can create entirely new content that is unique and original.

One of the main applications of generative AI is in the creative industries, such as music, art, and writing, where it can be used to produce new and original works. In addition, it has many potential uses in research, including generating new datasets, simulations, and models that can be used to explore complex systems and phenomena.

While ChatGPT is new and more sophisticated than its predecessors, educators have been coping with, and capitalizing on, AI tools for some time. For example, the plagiarism software Turnitin already utilizes AI; language instructors have long received assignments with answers generated by Google Translate; CodePilot is widely used by students in computer science; Grammarly is a well-established writing aid; and Wolfram Alpha is heavily used by students completing quantitative assignments. Meanwhile, AI bots are heavily used in customer service, financial services, and other transactional domains.

What Can Generative AI Do?

Generative AI has a wide range of potential applications in various fields, including:

  1. Creative Industries: Generative AI can be used to create new music, art, and literature. For example, AI-generated music has been used in film soundtracks, while AI-generated art has been exhibited in galleries.

  2. Gaming: Generative AI can be used to create new game content, such as levels, characters, and storylines. This can help game developers create more engaging and diverse games.

  3. Design: Generative AI can be used to design new products, buildings, and cityscapes. For example, architects can use AI-generated designs to explore new possibilities and optimize their designs.

  4. Simulation: Generative AI can be used to simulate complex systems, such as weather patterns, traffic flows, and financial markets. This can help researchers and decision-makers to better understand these systems and make more informed decisions.

  5. Healthcare: Generative AI can be used to create personalized treatment plans for patients, based on their medical history and symptoms. This can help healthcare professionals to provide more effective and efficient treatment.

  6. Language Processing: Generative AI can be used to generate human-like responses in chatbots and virtual assistants. This can help improve the user experience and make these systems more helpful and engaging.

Overall, generative AI has the potential to be a powerful tool for creating new content and solving complex problems in various fields. However, it is important to use it in a responsible and ethical way to ensure that the generated content is accurate, unbiased, and reliable.

Context for this guide

As the university taskforce on generative AI met in spring of 2023 to develop a list of suggestions and resources for the provost's office, we realized that faculty and students wanted to know:

  1. What is generative AI
  2. Why do I care about it?

This guide was developed in order to answer those questions and provide thoughtful resources for further reading and exploration of generative AI tools. Our ultimate suggestion is to open ChatGPT and try it for yourself. Or, if you need some convincing, listen to this podcast on "Why You (and Your Company) Need to Experiment with ChatGPT Now".

This guide is mainly a link farm of resources pulled from lengthy lists of articles, videos, and assignment ideas geared towards those of us in higher education. As such, they'll just as soon be out of date. Give us grace and understanding as we figure out who, if anyone, will maintain this page and how often it will be updated.

Parts of this guide were written by ChatGPT, some was take with permission from McIntyre Library @ University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, some was originally written. 

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