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Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Generative AI, ChatGPT, etc.

Are AI tools reliable?

It is important for you to critically evaluate and fact-check any information generated by ChatGPT, and to use it as a tool for idea generation and refinement rather than a replacement for your own critical thinking and research (Maynard, "ChatGPT in the Classroom"). 

AI is Not Always Trustworthy

  • ChatGPT was trained using a massive dataset of text written by humans that was pulled from the Internet.
  • AI responses can reflect the biases of the humans who wrote the text used in the training dataset.
  • ChatGPT is not connected to the Internet and the data used to train it was collected prior to 2021. 
  • AI tools sometimes "hallucinate" or make things up.
    Example: It is known to create citations for articles that don't actually exist.
"AI outputs cannot be trusted as absolute truth. Instead, we have to use human discernment, analysis and creativity to use AI outputs ethically and responsibly.”    ~Janay Robert, Senior Researcher, EDUCAUSE, "ChatGPT in Education: The Pros, Cons and Unknowns, of Generative AI

Fact-Check AI

Don't assume the information provided is correct. Here are two basic strategies for evaluating information provided by an AI tool:

Lateral Reading

  • Look to see if other reliable sources contain the same information and can confirm what ChatGPT says. This could be as simple as searching for a Wikipedia entry on the topic or doing a Google search to see if a person, thing, event, etc. that ChatGPT mentions actually exists.
  • When you look at multiple sources, you maximize lateral reading and can help avoid bias from a single source. 


Check Citations

  • If an AI tool provides a reference or citation, confirm that the source actually exists.
    • Copy the citation into a search tool like Google Scholar or the Library's Quick Search to see if it is included. If not, it will need further investigation.
    • Do a Google search for the lead author. Make sure it's a real person with acceptable credentials.
  • If the source is real, check that it actually contains the information that the AI tool says it does. Read the source or its abstract!    



Deeper Dive

Teacher and Student Guide to Analyzing AI Writing Tools (e.g., ChatGPT)


Questions About the AI Writing Tool

  • Who created the AI writing tool?
  • Who worked on training the AI writing tool?
  • What dataset was used to train the AI writing tool? How does the diversity (or lack thereof) of the dataset influence the output of the AI writing tool? 
  • Why was this tool created? 
  • What are the objectives, aims, and values of the tool designer?
  • What does the tool designer gain from your use of this tool? 
  • How does the tool designer make money from the tool? 
  • What do the privacy policies say? What are the terms of service/use and how much agency does the user have in their own participation and privacy? Are the privacy policy and terms of service easy to understand and read? Why do you think this is?
  • What are the limitations of this tool? (e.g., ChatGPT is not connected to the Internet, and therefore, cannot draw connections to present-day events; ChatGPT has a limit for how much text you can upload)
  • Who is the target audience for this tool? How do you know this? 
  • Who is harmed and who benefits from this tool? (question borrowed from the Civics of Technology curriculum)
  • What are the unintended and unexpected benefits and consequences of using this tool? (question borrowed from the Civics of Technology curriculum)


Questions About the Text Produced by the AI Writing Tool

  • What information is presented in the text?
  • What information is missing from the text? Why do you think that information is missing? (consider that ChatGPT generates text based on its training dataset)
  • What type of language and word choices are used to convey ideas and information in the text?
  • How are the language and word choices different from, or similar to, the way humans write? Why do you think that is?
  • List three adjectives to describe your response to the text. Your adjectives can be based on your immediate emotional reaction or longer-term reflections. Why did you select those adjectives?
  • Who is the target audience(s) for this text? How do you know this?
  • How reliable, accurate, and credible is the text? How did you determine this? 
  • What sources, if any, are cited? How accurate and relevant are those sources? 
  • What biases are present in the text? Why might this be?
  • What might be the original sources used to generate this text? Conduct an Internet search and see if you can find the original sources (it's likely more than one source!) that the AI tool used to generate this text. 
  • After responding to the prompts in the "Questions About the AI Writing Tool," section above, how does this influence your thinking about the text generated by the AI writing tool? 

From Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning (CC BY-NC-SA)