Artificial Intelligence and History: Revision Assignment

Introduction to AI and History

This week I am going to introduce you to Artificial Intelligence (AI) as it relates to researching, writing, and publishing history. Autocorrect text systems and auto-complete in Microsoft Word and Google Docs are both examples of AI. These programs use past patterns of usage to predict future patterns of usage. As anyone who has been frustrated by autocorrect texts knows, AI can not replicate human composition abilities.

Before beginning, a caution. Most text-based AIs use large amounts of text to analyze patterns. Rather than seeing 2,4,6,8,x, 12 and supplying 10 for x, these systems look at patterns of words "to be or not to ____, that is the question" and supply what they think is correct. To create predictive patterns AIs grab text from easily accessible sources on the internet, such as Reddit, and Wikipedia. Because AIs are using published internet sources as their models, AIs reproduce the perspectives of the originating texts. For example, Reddit users are more than 90% male.

The following ethical issues can arise when using AI. AI's may:

  1. Reproduce bigoted language of their source bases.
  2. Use significant energy to respond to answers, which inputs carbon into our atmosphere and contributes to global climate change.
  3. Fail to respond with "I don't know" even if there is no good answer to offer.
  4. Require content curation by low paid workers in developing nations to filter toxic content for content consumers in rich nations.
  5. Present information as "true" without an accountable person as writer or speaker.
  6. Generated work may be used in situations that cause harm, such as students copying AI text without citation and failing an assignment or class.

For all these reasons, I'm not going to have you work in an AI, but rather work with its output for one prompt. Doing so limits the possible damage of using an AI, while helping you understand it's capabilities and failures.

Revision: Words

Learning Goals

  1. Student evaluates the output of the ChaptGPT AI using the SIFT process.
  2. Student identifies the historical thinking strengths of the produce text.
  3. Student identifies the historical thinking weaknesses of the produced text.
  4. Student explains what citation practices are needed to use AI generated text.
  5. Student explores the ethical considerations of using AI tools for history work.


  1. Read the following prompt and output from the Open AI Chat.
  2. Answer the questions below the text in complete sentences.

Prompt input into Open AI Chat: "Write a four paragraph essay, citing scholarly articles, comparing how the Carolingian dynasty's approach to water management differed from the Abbasid dynasty's approach to water management. "

2023-03-17, 10:49

"The Carolingian dynasty and the Abbasid dynasty were two of the most powerful empires of the medieval period. Both of these empires developed their own unique approaches to water management that were shaped by their respective geographical locations, cultural traditions, and political priorities. In this essay, we will compare and contrast the Carolingian dynasty's approach to water management with the Abbasid dynasty's approach to water management, drawing on scholarly articles and historical records."

"The Carolingian dynasty, which ruled Western Europe from the 8th to the 10th centuries, faced numerous challenges related to water management due to the region's diverse topography, including mountain ranges, rivers, and coastlines. According to a study by G. Gaudarzi (2018), the Carolingians developed an elaborate system of aqueducts, canals, and dams to manage water resources and facilitate transportation. They also built numerous water-powered mills, which helped to increase agricultural productivity and stimulate economic growth. The Carolingians were also known for their innovative hydraulic technologies, such as water wheels, which were used to power a wide range of industrial processes."

"In contrast, the Abbasid dynasty, which ruled the Middle East and North Africa from the 8th to the 13th centuries, had to contend with the challenges of managing water in a predominantly arid region. According to a study by T. B. Dewald (2019), the Abbasids developed a sophisticated system of irrigation canals, underground aqueducts, and reservoirs to conserve and distribute water resources. They also implemented a complex legal framework for water management, which included regulations on water rights, water usage, and water distribution. Furthermore, the Abbasids made significant advances in hydraulic engineering, including the construction of massive water wheels and hydraulic machines."

"In conclusion, the Carolingian dynasty and the Abbasid dynasty both developed innovative approaches to water management that were shaped by their respective geographical, cultural, and political contexts. While the Carolingians focused on developing hydraulic technologies to facilitate transportation and increase agricultural productivity, the Abbasids focused on conserving and distributing water resources in a predominantly arid region. However, both dynasties recognized the importance of water management for economic growth, social stability, and environmental sustainability, and their approaches to water management continue to inspire modern-day water management practices."

Questions: Please answer in complete sentences

  1. What SIFT questions would you need to answer to figure out if what the AI has written is credible? You do not need to answer your own questions, but you should write 3-5 questions.
  2. As an essay, what are the strengths of this outputted text? What are the weaknesses of the essay as writing?
  3. What information would you want as a professor in a citation if a student used an AI for a paper? Put another way, how could you cite ChatGPT (this particular AI) responsibly?
  4. What are some ethical questions (2-4) you have about using this type of AI in history or other coursework? (If you have not considered this, a bit of web searching or talking with friends may help.)