Artificial intelligence (AI) is a relatively new technology that is developing quickly. ChatGPT or Google's Bard, are neither good or bad when it comes to finding and using information. Instead, they represent a new way in which we can interact with information.
This guide's intention is to help you critically engage with Artificial Intelligence platforms and focuses on how they intersect with your research.
Students, please first confirm with your professor that using ChatGPT or other content produced by artificial intelligence (AI) is acceptable before using it for any course assignments.
Artificial intelligence platforms like ChatGPT and Google Bard are trained on large repositories of data that are analyzed and develop patterns that to generate responses to a question or prompt. Some partial lists of the training dataset (ChatGPT and Google Bard) exist, and ChatGPT will also provide a partial list when queried. However, the entire body of text that has trains these bots is unknown.
When the chatbot provides an answer to a question, it will not immediately provide a reference for where the information came from. This is because it is pulling predictive language from a wide variety of places, so the information usually doesn't come from a single source. Because of this, you typically cannot trace the response back to a single parent source or know where the information came from.
Yes, when prompted, ChatGPT can provide references. However, these references may not be where the information actually came from and - more importantly - may not be for real sources. Despite sounding plausible, ChatGPT can easily hallucinate citations.
For example, ChatGPT provided this citation and summary in response to a prompt about needing an academic journal article on the topic of amphetamine use and social determinants of health:
"Here's an example of a peer-reviewed journal article on amphetamine abuse and its intersections with social determinants of health:
Stoové, M. A., Dietze, P. M., Jolley, D., Fry, C. L., Brewer, N., & Hellard, M. E. (2008). Increasing access to sterile injecting equipment and syringe exchange in a rural area with a high prevalence of bloodborne viruses. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 16(2), 99-106.
This article describes a study conducted in a rural area of Australia with a high prevalence of bloodborne viruses, including those associated with amphetamine use..." OpenAI. (2023, February 17). [ChatGPT response to a prompt about locating an academic journal article]. https://chat.openai.com/
Although the summary sounds plausible and the citation looks realistic, this article does not exist. The journal exists, as does the lead author. However, Stoové has not published in this journal.
As of 1 March 2023, the cutoff date for the data ChatGPT was trained on is September 2021. This means the tool has limited access to events and information more recent than that. ChatGPT continues to learn and update my knowledge with new information as it becomes available, so this will change. However, it is important to realize that the currency of the information provided by ChatGPT is lagging. This can impact information credibility, especially when dealing with a topic where the age of your information matters.
Here is ChatGPT's response to this topic on 17 April 2023:
"As an AI language model, my knowledge is based on the data I was trained on, which currently goes up until 2021. However, I continue to learn and update my knowledge with new information as it becomes available. Additionally, I rely on the accuracy of the sources that are used to update my knowledge. So while I may not have the most recent information on every topic, I strive to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information based on the data available to me."
As of 24 March 2023, OpenAI has began implementing plugins for ChatGPT which will "help [it] access up-to-date information, run computations, or use third-party services." The access to current information is not yet a part of the ChatGPT research preview commonly used.
Update on Google Bard
Although details about how Bard will display search results are extremely limited, there are some details one can glean from the Google Blog announcement. Aside from the dataset that Bard was trained on, Bard will be able to use current information from the internet to generate responses to search queries.