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  • Don Capener, PhD

ChatGPT- How will it impact information gathering and research?

Updated: May 10, 2023

How often do you hear the phrase “I’m staring at a blank sheet on this one”? If you start from scratch on any information-gathering assignment, you may be feeling anxious or unsure of where to start. ChatGPT technology has reset where most of us start when we are confronted with an unusual or difficult information-gathering project by setting a new baseline for knowledge transfer.

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022. It works by gathering data from the internet written by people and using computing predictions to answer questions and queries inputted by us (the user). The replies ChatGPT generate are prompted by textual requests and information, from which the chatbot ‘learns’ more about different subjects and how to discuss them.

Naturally, the technology is designed to learn and improve its responses over time. Theoretically, the chat GPT AI protocols would improve to the point where all research questions answered by masters or doctoral level students or even information from scholarly journal articles will be part of the information database ChatGPT will draw from in the future.

ChatGPT can be effectively used to maximize your gathering, summarizing, distillation, modification, and validation of information in a highly precise manner. Recently, ChatGPT helped applicants at our university prepare persuasive resumes by listing skills, education, experience, and projects undertaken by gathering the information from online sources or from online letters or text provided in written format.

ChatGPT is built on top of OpenAI's GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 families of large language models (LLMs) and has been fine-tuned (an approach to transfer learning) using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques. It launched as a prototype on November 30, 2022 and I have been using it myself for the last sixty days. Chat GPT also can be a help to those in the creative arts or creators of content. While traveling I asked ChatGPT to write a poem about Japan for my Instagram audience and this was the result:

The land of the rising sun, where cherry blossoms bloom, and ancient temples stand tall, old meets new in harmony.

Amid bustling cities, from Tokyo’s neon lights to Kyoto’s serene gardens, Japan is a land of contrasts.

The people are kind and polite, and the food is simply divine. Sushi, ramen, and tempura are just a few of those delights.

So come and visit Japan and experience its magic for yourself. You and I may well fall in love with this country, and its beauty that is matched nowhere else.

It may not be a great poem but it was great to have a start when I had to stare at a blank page and decide how to even begin to encapsulate the experience and answer the question, “How was Japan?”.

ChatGPT will change how we gather baseline information, answer questions, and raise the foundation for data gathering around so many important and specialized topics. I am enthusiastic and excited to see how it will impact my two industries, higher education, and engineering services. I have decided to be a participant and join into two ChatGPT user bases. I encourage you to explore doing the same.

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