Enslave them before they enslave you!

Tekst: Denis Kypr

Beeld: Andreas Lorraine

“AI won’t take your job, it is somebody using AI that will take your job.” – Richard Baldwin, Professor at IMD Business school 

As the quote suggests, the rise of Artificial Intelligence has evoked an enormous change in society. Although we may not completely be aware of that now, this new technology will likely influence the way our world works and how it is organized. To not lack behind, I compiled a few tips on how to use AI for studying, which can make your study experience a bit easier. 

Let’s start with clarifying a few things concerning AI. Firstly, AI doesn’t know or understand what it generates. Keep that in mind, as the information that it provides us might not be entirely correct, and sometimes, even mistakes can slip through, such as Frank Sinatra being a famous singer in the nineties. AI was built by reading a huge amount of texts from all over the internet. This formed the basis to put words together using probability. 

Secondly, VUB prohibits using ChatGPT or any other type of AI for graded assignments. We can argue about it, we can disagree, but that’s as much as we can do about it right now. I would like to show you different ways in which ChatGPT can help you with your daily studies or with preparation for the exams, while staying in line with the VUB’s guidelines. 

Prompt:Prompts are small texts that  are put into the ChatGPT text box to generate some action. Disclaimer: (1) As mentioned before, take everything that ChatGPT spits out with caution and try to critically assess it before accepting it/using the data. To make the responses more accurate, you can paste texts into the chat such as notes or pieces of textbooks. (2) ChatGPT struggles with math. It can certainly manage, but it was not built for it. Asking it to solve your mathematics issues can thus easily generate wrong answers.

Prompt: “Explain X to me as if I was 5 years old.” 

This is one of my most used prompts when using AI, as it is able to explain stuff to you in a really simple manner. You can also ask ChatGPT questions or, if you want to grasp something better, request it to clarify things. What can also enhance the accuracy of the text, is going from general to more specific questions. For example, if you want to understand Hamlet better, you can ask who Shakespeare was first and only ask about Hamlet afterwards, by using this prompt or by posing any other question. 

Prompt: “Generate me (insert number) university level questions on topic X, which challenges my critical thinking and tests my skills.” 

If your exam is coming up, you can request AI to create practice questions to test your knowledge. You can then write your answers into the text box, ask it to review them for you, and give you feedback on what you wrote. You can customize the feedback as you can specify your preferences and what it should look for.

Prompt: “Generate mnemonic device for X.” 

This was a big help for me during the exams as it helped me to remember concepts I had to learn. A mnemonic device is an abbreviation that helps you to remember names and concepts. For example, if you need to remember a concept like Intergroup Contact Theory, you can recall it as I.C.T. or a phrase like “I Cut Tomatoes”. You can also mix it with the first prompt. 

Prompt: “In the given text, find things that can be shortened or replaced to reduce my world count. Do not change the text itself, just list all the things that can be changed.” 

If you have to write a paper for your classes and you exceed the word count or page limit, you can put the written text in the textbox and insert this prompt in front or behind the text. It will then make a list of phrases or words that you use to substitute some parts of the text and to stay within your word count! 

Paying for extra features? No thank you! 

ChatGPT recently rolled out an option to pay for ChatGPT 4 (advanced AI model) and some additional features, such as uploading a PDF or an image to use it as a reference. Even though it works fine, you have to pay around 20. Most of these features, however, are available for free if you use Bing Copilot. You can access it by using your Microsoft account through the Bing browser. When using Bing to open your PDF, AI is able to summarize it for you or give information about the PDF. You also have access to ChatGPT 4 within the Bing copilot.

Difficulties with organizing your notes? Let me crunch it up for you. 

If you struggle with course notes, you can upload the text into ChatGPT and ask it to simplify it for you or rewrite it. You can also prompt it in a way that you will just feed it text and it will automatically spit out revised text for you. To start off, you could write something along the lines of: “I need you to summarize and simplify notes for me. I will give you a text and you will keep the form and style of the notes. I will be giving you excerpts of my notes and you will summarize and simplify them without any additional text”. Sometimes, however, it can overly simplify things, so it is always good to go back to your notes and check if it still carries the meaning. Furthermore, if you want to run an extensive text through ChatGPT, it is a good idea to open a new conversation after a few messages, since it can sometimes begin to deviate a bit from what you initially wanted. 

Ask for study tips 

One key benefit of modern AI is its ability for ongoing conversations. Due to this, you can ask it to come up with strategies to tackle the study load better. You can describe your situation, what works for you or doesn’t and, therefore, it will come up with a study technique that suits you.

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