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University develops AI initiative to introduce students, faculty to ChatGPT

Roz Brown

(New Mexico News Connection) In just six months, ChatGPT has become a popular and powerful tool on the internet, and the University of New Mexico is developing an artificial intelligence initiative to educate faculty and students on its pros and cons.

Leo Lo, professor and dean of the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences at the University of New Mexico, said ChatGPT is a generative artificial intelligence tool able to answer complicated questions about a wide range of topics, suggest edits, produce content from images and have conversations with humans.

It could help people do research more quickly, but others worry the tool will also be used to cheat. Lo acknowledged he has concerns, but nonetheless believes librarians and others need to work proactively with tech firms to address the tool's limitations and biases. 

"I can see what I call AI literacy, going to become as important as reading and writing in the future," Lo emphasized. "People need to know what this kind of technology is about and how to use it intelligently and responsibly."

Lo admitted AI can sound scary, but it is not going away, and educators need to beef up their knowledge because it is moving into the mainstream much more quickly than the internet did 30 years ago. Lo expects AI technology will eliminate some jobs, but create others.


GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer, specialized algorithms for finding long-range patterns in sequences of data. Lo is leading the AI Initiative at the university, and noted while it can answer questions, write essays and even compose poetry, it is really a form of autocorrect, or autocomplete like on a smartphone.

"It's really important to know that while it can generate these types of responses, it doesn't really -- I would say -- quote, unquote, understand any of it, like a human does," Lo stressed. "It generates these responses based on patterns it had learned during its training."

Two months after its January launch, ChatGPT said it already had 100 million active users.