U-M debuts generative AI services for campus

August 22, 2023
Concept illustration of generative AI. Image credit: Nicole Smith, made with Midjourney

With the launch of a new platform this week, the University of Michigan is believed to be one of the first universities to offer custom artificial intelligence services to its entire community.

The new suite of generative AI tools—developed by U-M’s Information & Technology Services—firmly emphasizes the importance of equity, accessibility and privacy.

The ITS AI Services have several key differentiators from most other generative AI tools like ChatGPT, which charge monthly subscriptions for increased usage limits. For most services, U-M will initially be providing no-cost levels of access with generous usage limits for students, faculty and staff.

U-M’s AI platform has also been designed and tested for accessibility. U-M’s GPT service works seamlessly with screen-readers, which do not work with other AI tools like ChatGPT. And all data shared with U-M’s AI services is private and will not be used to train AI models.

ITS collaborated with Microsoft to create the new AI platform. U-M is initially launching three AI services that will be available to the university community across Ann Arbor, Flint, Dearborn and Michigan Medicine. These services launched this week and can be found at genai.umich.edu.

“We passionately believe that everyone at U-M should have access to the most powerful technology tools available. At the core of our GenAI services is the commitment to provide tools and technologies that enhance, support and augment humanity,” said Ravi Pendse, U-M’s vice president for IT and chief information officer.

“Using these tools responsibly, I am confident that our community of scholars will make a positive difference in the world. I am so proud that we’re leading the development of these services because they will be a gamechanger for how colleges use GenAI going forward.”

The first new service, U-M GPT, lets users easily engage with popular GenAI models like ChatGPT and other large language models. U-M GPT will initially be provided at no cost to the U-M community to celebrate the launch of the platform.

U-M Maizey will allow U-M users to access AI language models to query and question their own datasets. This tool can seamlessly connect to popular platforms like Google and Canvas (Dropbox coming soon), allowing it to extract valuable insights from user data.

The final of the initial AI offerings, U-M GPT Toolkit, will provide a platform to construct, train and host AI models securely and at scale. Optimized for advanced AI designers, Toolkit offers a creative platform where users can tailor solutions to meet a wide variety of needs.

The AI platform has been approved for use with moderate sensitive data upon its release. At this time, use with data above a moderate-sensitivity classification (including protected health information) is not allowed. However, ITS is working diligently to expand the data types that may be used within the GenAI tools in the coming months.

“Generative AI is here to stay,” said Robert Jones, ITS executive director of support services, who led the development team for the new AI platform. “U-M is taking this opportunity to lead the discussion and help show higher ed and the rest of our global community how you can provide fair, responsible and forward-thinking access to this kind of technology for an entire community. I am excited to see what everyone at U-M can create with these tools at their disposal.

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