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New Tech, New Challenges, New Opportunities

Thursday, July 20th, 2023

If you’ve been on any online news feed recently, you’ve probably heard about ChatGPT, the cutting-edge language model developed by OpenAI. Introduced to the general public in 2022, ChatGPT has received much attention since that time. This new tech is explained as, “… a large language model created by OpenAI. It uses advanced artificial intelligence techniques to generate human-like responses to natural language inputs. ChatGPT has been trained on a massive corpus of text from the internet and can understand and generate responses in many different languages. It can be used in a wide range of applications, including customer service, chatbots, and language translation.” (For the record, the italicized text was written by ChatGPT).

ChatGPT accepts prompts such as “Write an essay about climate change.”  A response is generated immediately, and the conversation can continue with related questions.  This innovation is a topic of both amazement and concern, with huge implications for education.

Recently UB’s Digital Scholarship Studio and Network hosted a roundtable discussion, bringing together over 50 participants from across the university to discuss the implications and applications of ChatGPT. Participants agreed that the tech is here to stay and users need to know how to leverage it to ensure the best outcome for learning.

Educators are interested in learning more about how to approach this new technology and are eager to share their experiences. With the arrival of ChatGPT, academic librarians are evaluating the best and most effective way to work with this new tool.  Comments range from “all the students will be using it to cheat” to “this will be the greatest tool ever.”

Because ChatGPT accumulates and collates data from online materials such as websites, ebooks, journals and even social media, the information gathered has limitations and can be false, incomplete or out of context. As this new technology evolves at a rapid pace, librarians are teaching students how to discern whether information is accurate, unbiased and from a reliable source.  “As librarians, we should be able to point to resources that cover not only how to create and use machine learning, but also on ethical and societal impacts,” says Natalia Estrada, UB digital scholarship librarian.  “We need to be paying attention to the impact these tools have on marginalized communities as well as the ethics around private companies releasing these tools without considering possible safety issues.”

This form of artificial intelligence is here for the long-term and as the technology progresses into new, improved iterations with increased capacity, academic librarians will need to continue the conversation on how ChatGPT tests the boundaries of the ethical use of machine learning.

To learn more about Artificial Intelligence, visit