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Artificial Intelligence Usage in an Education Setting

This guides some of the basics, benefits, and issues of using artificial intelligence in a college environment.

ChatGPT Explained in 5 Minutes

ChatGPT Overview

ChatGPT is a product developed by OpenAI. It has been cited as having the fastest growing user base in technology history. It is a Generative AI chat bot that uses Large Language Models with several enhancements to make it more conservational and versatile. It has the ability to respond to user input, make creative works, answer research questions, talk about games and game theory, and work with computer programs. 

Make note that ChatGPT is not (yet, at least) an omniscient megabrain. It instead takes large amounts of data and generates models of how to present and respond to that data. Sometimes answers can vary greatly depending on context. The creators themselves have cited its ability to generate "plausible sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers"

The best way to understand the power and limitations of ChatGPT is use it. You can try it out at

Note that there is a paid version that guarantees access even in times of higher usage and access to more advanced features. Even to use the free you will need to make an account using an email and your date of birth. All examples on this page were generated with a free account.

None of these examples are "gotchas" {maybe the "cloud" one) and are given here merely to demonstrate the various ways that ChatGPT can respond to certain types of prompts. In all cases, you can continue to ask questions, ask for clarifications, suggest corrections, and so forth. If you click on the link to the question, you should have option to "continue conversation". 

Example 1: A Simplish Math Equation

Question: What is the integral of x^3+5x^2+6x?

Answer Given:

To find the integral of the function f(x) = x^3 + 5x^2 + 6x, we can apply the power rule of integration. The power rule states that the integral of x^n is equal to (1/(n+1)) * x^(n+1), where n is any real number except -1.

Let's apply the power rule to each term of the function:

∫(x^3 + 5x^2 + 6x) dx = (1/4) * x^(3+1) + (1/3) * 5x^(2+1) + (1/2) * 6x^(1+1) + C = (1/4) * x^4 + (5/3) * x^3 + 3x^2 + C

Therefore, the integral of x^3 + 5x^2 + 6x is equal to (1/4) * x^4 + (5/3) * x^3 + 3x^2 + C, where C is the constant of integration.

Example 2: Historical Fact Look Up

Question: When did the Golden Gate Bridge collapse?


The Golden Gate Bridge has never collapsed. It remains standing as a prominent landmark in San Francisco, California, since its completion in 1937. The bridge is known for its iconic red-orange color and its suspension design, spanning the Golden Gate Strait. While the bridge has withstood the test of time, it has undergone regular maintenance and seismic retrofitting to ensure its structural integrity.

Doug's Note: this is partially in reference to various sites that claim the Golden Gate Bridge collapsed at some point. ChatGPT is correct on this one. 

Example 3: Python Code

Question: How do I determine if a number is prime using Python code?


To determine if a number is prime using Python, you can implement a function that checks if the number is divisible by any integer between 2 and the square root of the number (inclusive). If the number is divisible by any of these integers, it is not prime. Otherwise, it is prime. Here's an example of how you can do this:

import math

def is_prime(number):
    if number < 2:  # Numbers less than 2 are not prime
        return False
    # Check for divisibility from 2 to the square root of the number
    for i in range(2, int(math.sqrt(number)) + 1):
        if number % i == 0:
            return False
    return True

# Testing the function
number = int(input("Enter a number: "))
if is_prime(number):
    print(number, "is prime.")
    print(number, "is not prime.")

In this code, the is_prime function takes an integer number as input and returns True if the number is prime and False otherwise. It first checks if the number is less than 2, as numbers less than 2 are not prime. Then, it iterates over the range from 2 to the square root of the number (inclusive) and checks if the number is divisible by any of these integers using the modulo operator %. If it finds a divisor, it returns False indicating that the number is not prime. If no divisors are found, it returns True, indicating that the number is prime.

You can modify the code to suit your specific needs, such as incorporating it into a larger program or using a different method for checking prime numbers.

Example 4: A History/Sociology Question

Question: What impact did women's rights to vote have on the American economy?


The women's suffrage movement in the United States, culminating in the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which granted women the right to vote, had significant social and political implications. While the direct impact of women's suffrage on the American economy is complex and not easily quantifiable, there are several ways in which it likely influenced economic outcomes:

  1. Increased labor force participation: With the ability to vote and gain political representation, women became more engaged in public affairs. This increased their confidence and led to greater participation in the workforce. The expanding female labor force contributed to economic growth by filling previously unoccupied positions and increasing productivity.

  2. Demand for women's goods and services: As women gained more autonomy and decision-making power, their preferences and needs influenced consumer demand. Industries catering to women's products and services, such as fashion, cosmetics, household goods, and healthcare, experienced growth as women became more active consumers.

  3. Expanding educational opportunities: The women's suffrage movement coincided with a broader push for women's education and professional opportunities. As more women pursued higher education and entered professions previously dominated by men, their increased knowledge and skills benefited the economy. This expansion of the female talent pool contributed to innovation and economic development.

  4. Political influence on economic policies: The voting power of women began to shape political discourse and policy-making. Women advocated for social reforms and policies that aimed to improve the welfare of families, including labor protections, social security, healthcare, and education. These policy changes had long-term economic implications, fostering social stability, improving living standards, and promoting economic equality.

  5. Entrepreneurship and business ownership: Women's suffrage empowered women to participate in economic activities beyond wage labor. It opened doors for women to become entrepreneurs, business owners, and investors, contributing to economic growth and job creation. Increased female representation in leadership positions brought diverse perspectives, which are known to positively impact decision-making and innovation.

It's important to note that progress towards gender equality in the economy has been gradual, with various obstacles and systemic biases still present today. While women's suffrage marked a significant milestone, achieving gender equality in all aspects of the economy remains an ongoing process.

Example 5: What shape of clouds is best? (Yes, a sillier one)

Question: What shape of clouds is best?


The "best" shape of clouds is subjective and can vary depending on personal preference or the specific context. Clouds come in a wide variety of shapes and forms, each with its own unique beauty and characteristics. Some commonly admired cloud shapes include:

  1. Cumulus Clouds: These are large, fluffy clouds with a flat base and a rounded, cauliflower-like shape. They are often associated with fair weather and are commonly seen on warm, sunny days.

  2. Cirrus Clouds: These are high-altitude clouds that appear thin, wispy, and feathery. They can be found in delicate, intricate patterns and are often seen on clear, dry days. Cirrus clouds can create stunning displays during sunrise and sunset, with their fibers reflecting sunlight and producing vibrant colors.

  3. Stratocumulus Clouds: These clouds form low, grayish layers with a smooth or slightly lumpy appearance. They often cover the sky and can create a dramatic backdrop, especially during sunrise or sunset, when they can display beautiful hues.

  4. Lenticular Clouds: These are lens-shaped clouds that typically form near mountains or hilly terrain. They have a smooth, saucer-like appearance and can stack up in layers, creating a mesmerizing effect. Lenticular clouds are often associated with stable atmospheric conditions and can be visually striking.

Ultimately, the "best" shape of clouds depends on personal taste, the overall atmospheric conditions, and the visual impact you are seeking. Clouds in various shapes can contribute to the beauty and dynamics of the sky, making each cloud formation a unique spectacle to behold.

Follow-up Statement: I like it when they are shaped like dragons.

Follow-up Response:

Clouds that resemble dragons can indeed be captivating and evoke a sense of wonder and imagination. While it is not a common occurrence to see clouds shaped exactly like dragons, sometimes clouds can take on forms that resemble mythical creatures, animals, or objects. This phenomenon is known as pareidolia, where our brains perceive familiar patterns or shapes in random stimuli like clouds, rocks, or other natural formations.

If you enjoy seeing clouds that resemble dragons, keep an eye on the sky and let your imagination roam. Cloud formations are constantly changing and evolving, offering an endless array of shapes and possibilities. You might come across cloud formations that remind you of dragons, whether it's the outline of a serpentine body, wings, or even a head and tail.

Remember to approach such sightings with an appreciation for the beauty of nature and the whimsical nature of our own perceptions. Clouds that resemble dragons can provide a delightful and imaginative experience, allowing you to create your own stories and interpretations of the sky's artwork.

Doug's notes: Sometimes ChatGPT responds a bit boring. Let's try a different approach with another more creative prompt.

Example 6: Write a Poem

Question/Prompt: Write a poem about grass as though H.P. Lovecraft wrote it. 


In dim recesses where horror dwells,
Beyond the realms of mortal spells,
Beneath a moonless sky, so vast,
Lies a tale of dread, of the creeping grass.

On moldering soil where shadows breed,
Where ancient secrets lie interweaved,
The tendrils writhe, their dark hearts pulse,
Spawned in the depths, a blasphemous convulse.

Emerald whispers, secrets untold,
Through twisted roots and loamy mold,
Unfurling menace 'neath the moon's cold glare,
The grass ensnares, entwines with wicked flair.

A symphony of whispers, haunting and low,
As madness takes root, begins to grow,
Ethereal tendrils, grasping and vile,
They slither and writhe, a sinister guile.

The grass, a gateway to dimensions unknown,
Where elder gods lurk, their powers sown,
Unfathomable beings, their forms grotesque,
Awakening from aeons of slumber to wreak.

Through tainted blades, eldritch eyes now peer,
Beneath the surface, cosmic horrors leer,
A dance of shadows, a macabre ballet,
As sanity withers, devoured by the fray.

Those who dare to tread upon this cursed ground,
Their minds consumed, their souls unbound,
Lost in the maze of forgotten lore,
In this realm of grass, they'll roam forevermore.

So beware, ye mortals, heed this grim decree,
Lest you stumble upon the grass, unholy and free,
For in the whispering blades, madness lies,
An infernal chorus, where horror never dies.

Doug's Note: As a person who has lectured about HPL, I feel that is pretty good.