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Generative AI CU Boulder: Overview


This guide offers information and suggested resources to help library users understand and navigate the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in the academic and research context. 

A wide range of sources were consulted to inform this guide, including scholarly literature, technique reports, websites, news, and videos. These sources were listed at the end of each page of this guide and can be used as further reading to understand related topics.

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of AI development, new information about tools, applications, issues, and social impacts continues to emerge on a daily basis, making it challenging to maintain currency. Although we are committed to continually updating this guide, please note that some information provided here may soon become outdated. We welcome your suggestions and questions.

Ithaka S&R has released a Generative AI Product Tracker that "lists generative AI products that are either marketed specifically towards postsecondary faculty or students or appear to be actively in use by postsecondary faculty or students for teaching, learning, or research activities." They update this list regularly and have information about using AI in higher education settings.

Brief Overview of Generative AI

Artificial Intelligence is a complicated set of technologies. While it is not necessary to understand every detail, it is beneficial to have a basic understanding of some of the core concepts of generative AI to help you make informed and ethical decisions about using AI tools.

Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence technology generates new content in a variety of forms, including text, images, audio, video and other formats. Generative AI generates new content by identifying information that exist in the dataset it was trained with. Generative AI fits into the field of deep learning, a subfield of machine learning, which, in turn, is a subcategory of the larger field of artificial intelligence.Gen AI concepts

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that creates machines and systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, including such features as perception, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, language interaction, and acting autonomously.  AI has several sub-disciplines, including deep learning, machine learning, neural processing, robotics, expert systems, and natural language processing.

Machine Learning is a subset of AI that involves training algorithms to learn from data and make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed. There are different types of machine learning, such as supervised learning (algorithm is trained on classified and labeled data), unsupervised learning (algorithm is trained on unlabeled data), and reinforcement learning (algorithm learns from interacting with environment and receiving feedback).

Deep Learning is a subset of machine learning methods. It is a type of machine learning that uses artificial neural networks allowing them to process more complex patterns than machine learning. Artificial neural networks are inspired by and modeled after the structure of the human brain. They are made up of many interconnected nodes or neurons, which allows them to learn more complex patterns than traditional machine learning models.

Large Language Models are also a subset of deep learning. Large language models refer to large, general-purpose language models that can be pre-trained to solve common language problems such as text classification, question answering, document summarization, and text generation.

At the intersection between Large Language Models and Generative AI is the technology that powers Chatbot applications such as ChatGPT, Claude.

The following short video distills the essence of Google's introductory AI course. It helps you understand the basic concepts of AI quickly.

Access to ChatGPT and DALL-E

Microsoft Copilot Enterprise, a suite of tools that integrates GPT-4 and DALL-E 3 with Microsoft 365 apps, is available to CU faculty and staff. Copilot Enterprise has enhanced data and privacy measures and currently supports multiple languages including English, Spanish, Japanese​​, French, German​​, Portuguese, Italian​​, and Chinese Simplified.​​ Learn more from OIT about accessing Copilot

Students who have updated their computers to Windows 11 have access to Copilot through a free update. Note that if you are conducting sensitive research or have other data privacy concerns, that your use of the free version of Copilot is not protected by the same data security measures as in Copilot Enterprise. 


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