What is Generative AI?

Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) refers to a type of artificial intelligence that can create new content, such as text, images, audio or video, by learning patterns from large sets of sample material. Examples of tools that use this technology include chatbots such as ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot (formerly known as Bing Chat) and Google Gemini (formerly known as Bard), and image generators like Midjourney and DALL-E.

While traditional AI has been used to analyze data, make predictions and perform specific tasks using predefined rules, Gen AI goes beyond these capabilities by creating new patterns from existing ones. It’s the difference between an AI that can play chess based on established rules and an AI that can generate concepts for entirely new board games.

DALL-E 3 chat promted to draw an orange cat with sunglasses riding a unicycle on the moon
Bing Chat interface prompted to write a three stanza poem about cats

For the realm of higher education, this technological leap presents transformative opportunities, like personalized learning experiences and innovative content generation tools for both students and educators. Yet, as with any pioneering technology, there are significant challenges accompanying its adoption. These span from maintaining academic integrity in the face of AI-generated content, addressing potential algorithmic biases that can skew learning experiences, to ensuring the data privacy of students, faculty and staff.

"Defining emerging technologies is no easy feat. The technology will inevitably evolve. This can mean that the definition becomes less descriptive over time. This could easily be the case with generative AI. The pace of innovation is stunningly fast. It seems that every day there is a new breakthrough and standout service (Taulli, 2023)."