The university wants to be in a position to use ChatGPT for educational purposes. “We have noticed a need to integrate generative artificial intelligence into the education we provide. One example of this is the fact that many students are already using ChatGPT to help them study”, says Bas Smit , Strategic Information Manager on Education at Erasmus Digitalisation & Information Services (EDIS). He is also a member of the Generative AI Task force. This task force, a collaboration of the Community for Learning & Innovation and EDIS, among others, was formed to explore how the university could use generative artificial intelligence in education. “As a university, we can see both the potential risks and opportunities of artificial intelligence. Which is exactly why we want the university itself to facilitate its use”, Smit says. According to Smit, the project’s focus is on learning how to harness generative artificial intelligence.

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Data security

One of the risks that Smit mentions is data security. “When you use ChatGPT, you have no idea where your data will end up”, he explains. Usually, it’s saved and used to improve the ChatGPT model. “Suppose you ask ChatGPT to summarise a text. The text you upload will enter Microsoft’s open environment, where other parties could see parts of it if they ask the right question”, he says. “Obviously, we don’t want this to happen.”

This is why the taskforce is working with an external party to create a protected environment. “It will ensure that the data entered into ChatGPT stays safely in our own cloud environment and is not forwarded to the open environment of Microsoft or OpenAI. This will enable us to work securely with ChatGPT.”

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Up to the faculties

The university has agreed to a one-year trial period with Microsoft. The task force will do its first test in December this year, after which the university will launch a pilot for a first group of users in January 2024.

Smit is not yet able to say which faculties will be given access to ChatGPT first. The jury is currently also still out about which version of ChatGPT will be offered. “We are closely monitoring developments, including those of the EUR, Surf and the Dutch and European governments, to make sure we offer students and staff the most suitable version”, Smit says. “We will be able to make available and offer different versions. We might offer different versions to different faculties or users.”

For the protected cloud environment, the university pays Microsoft by token. “Data security is important to us and something we are willing to pay for”, Smit says. “About one token for every four words. So, a fixed amount for every four words. This makes it vital for us to put our heads together and carefully consider where and how we can use ChatGPT as effectively as possible.”

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