The future of academia will likely be transformed by AI language models such as ChatGPT. Here are some other interesting tools to know.
“ChatGPT will redefine the future of academic research. But most academics don’t know how to use it intelligently,” Mushtaq Bilal, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, recently tweeted.
Academia and artificial intelligence (AI) are increasingly intertwined, and as AI continues to advance, it is likely that academics will continue to either exploit its potential or express concerns about its risks.
“There are two camps in academia. The first is the early adopters of artificial intelligence, and the second is the professors and academics who believe that AI corrupts academic integrity,” Bilal said at Euronews Next.
He places himself resolutely in the first camp.
The Pakistan-born, Denmark-based professor believes that if used thoughtfully, AI language models could help democratize education and even pave the way for more knowledge.
Many experts have pointed out that the accuracy and quality of results produced by language models such as ChatGPT cannot be trusted. The generated text may sometimes be biased, limited or inaccurate.
But Bilal says that understanding these limitations, combined with the right approach, can lead language models to “do a lot of quality work for you”, especially for academia.
Incremental prompt to create “structure”
To create a structure worthy of academia, Bilal says it is fundamental to master progressive prompting, a technique traditionally used in behavioral therapy and special education.
This involves breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable steps and providing prompts or cues to help the individual complete each one successfully. The prompts then become progressively more complicated.
In behavioral therapy, progressive incentives allow individuals to build their sense of confidence. In linguistic models, this allows for “much more sophisticated responses.”
In a Twitter thread, Bilal showed how he managed to convince ChatGPT to provide a “brilliant outline” for a journal article using incremental prompts.
In his demonstration, Bilal began by asking ChatGPT about specific concepts relevant to his work, then about the authors and their ideas, guiding the AI-driven chatbot through the contextual knowledge relevant to his essay.
“Now that ChatGPT has a good idea of my project, I ask him to create an outline for a journal article,” he explained, before stating that the results obtained would probably save him “20 working hours”.
“If I just wrote a paragraph for each point in the outline, I would have a decent first draft of my article.”
The incremental incentive also allows ChatGPT and other AI models to help “make education more democratic,” Bilal said.
Some people have the luxury of talking to professors at Harvard or Oxford about potential academic directions or directions for scientific papers, “but that’s not the case for everyone,” he explained.
“If I were in Pakistan, I wouldn’t have access to Harvard professors, but I would still need to brainstorm ideas. So I could use AI applications to have an intelligent conversation and help me to formulate my research.
Bilal recently got ChatGPT thinking and talking like a Stanford professor. Then, to verify the authenticity of the result, he asked the same questions to a real Stanford professor. The results were astonishing.
ChatGPT is just one of many AI-powered apps you can use for academic writing or to mimic conversations with renowned academics.
Here are other AI-based software to help you with your academic endeavors, handpicked by Bilal.
In Bilal’s own words: “If ChatGPT and Google Scholar got married, their child would be Consensus, an AI-powered search engine.”
Consensus is like most search engines, but what sets it apart is that you ask Yes/No questions, which it answers with the consensus of the academic community.
Users can also request consensus on the relationship between concepts and the cause and effect of something. For example: Does immigration improve the economy?
Consensus would answer this question by stating that most studies have shown that immigration generally improves the economy, providing a list of academic articles used to reach consensus, and ultimately sharing abstracts of the main articles analyzed.
The AI-powered search engine is only equipped to answer six topics: economics, sleep, social policy, medicine, mental health and health supplements.
Elicit, the “AI research assistant” according to its founders, also uses language models to answer questions. Yet his knowledge is based solely on research, allowing for “intelligent conversations” and brainstorming with a very knowledgeable and verified source.
The software can also find relevant articles without a perfect keyword match, summarize them, and extract key information.
Although language models such as ChatGPT are not designed to intentionally deceive, it has been proven that they can generate text that is not based on factual information and include false citations to articles that do not exist .
But there is an AI-powered app that gives you real citations from actually published articles: Scite.
“This is one of my favorites for improving workflows,” Bilal said.
Similar to Elicit, when asked a question, Scite provides answers with a detailed list of all articles cited in the answer.
“Also, if I make a claim and that claim has been refuted or corroborated by various people or various newspapers, Scite gives me the exact number. So it’s really very, very powerful.”
“If I had to teach a seminar on writing, I would teach how to use this app.”
“Research Rabbit is an incredible tool that speeds up your research. The best part: it’s FREE. But most academics don’t know that.” tweeted Bilal.
Called by its founders “the Spotify of research”, Research Rabbit allows you to add academic articles to “collections”.
These collections allow the software to learn the user’s interests, which prompts new, relevant recommendations.
Research Rabbit also allows the scientific network of articles and co-authors to be visualized in graphs, so users can follow the work of a single subject or author and explore their research further.
ChatPDF is an AI-powered application that makes reading and analyzing journal articles easier and faster.
“It’s like ChatGPT, but for research articles,” Bilal explained.
Users start by uploading the PDF of the research paper into the AI software and then start asking it questions.
The app then prepares a brief summary of the article and provides the user with example questions that it could answer based on the full article.
What promise does AI hold for the future of research?
The development of AI will be as fundamental “as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet and the mobile phone,” wrote Bill Gates. in the last message on his personal blog, titled “The Age of AI Has Began.”
“Computers have not had the effect on education that many of us in the industry hoped for,” he wrote.
“But I think in the next five to 10 years, AI-based software will finally deliver on its promise to revolutionize the way people teach and learn.”