CFAES Give Today
Farm Office

Ohio State University Extension


Artificial Intelligence – What Is it and How to Use It

By:Robert Moore, Wednesday, May 31st, 2023

Legal Groundwork

You may have seen the recent story of an attorney in New York who filed a pleading in a case in a federal district court.   The filing included citations to six court cases that do not actually exist.  Come to find out, the attorney who filed the pleading did not write it but instead used ChatGPT, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool.  The attorney now faces a June 8 sanctions hearing before the judge.  This incident is a good example of the myriad of implications, both good and bad, of using AI in the legal world and beyond.

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence refers to the development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. It includes a broad range of technologies, including machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics. AI systems have the ability to process and analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and make autonomous decisions or recommendations.

How Does Artificial Intelligence Work?

AI operates through various techniques and methodologies that allow machines to simulate human intelligence. Here are some key aspects of AI functionality:

Machine Learning. Machine learning is a branch of AI that focuses on developing algorithms capable of learning and improving from data. Through a process called training, AI models are exposed to large datasets, enabling them to recognize patterns, make predictions, and perform tasks without explicit programming.

Natural Language Processing. Natural language processing enables machines to understand and interpret human language. AI systems analyze text, speech, and context to extract meaning, respond to inquiries, and engage in conversation. Virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa are examples of AI applications that utilize natural language processing.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI, a non-profit corporation.  Released in November 2022, ChatGPT is groundbreaking in that it allows a simple, easy-to-use interface with a powerful AI computer framework.  Anyone who is capable of a simple Google search can use ChatGPT.

The chat or chatbot component of ChatGPT allows the user to chat with ChatGPT.  The user does not need to be a computer programmer or have a sophisticated understanding of computers.  The user asks or commands ChatGPT to produce an answer or output and then can further refine the output by chatting with ChatGPT.  For example, let’s enter the following into ChatGPT: “Write a one paragraph email to my neighbor asking them to fix their fence so their cattle quit getting into my field”.  ChatGPT produces the following:

"I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to bring to your attention a recurring issue that has been affecting my property recently. It seems that the fence separating our fields is in need of repair, as I have noticed your cattle frequently entering my field. While I understand that maintenance tasks can sometimes slip our minds, I kindly request your assistance in fixing the fence to prevent further incursions. I believe that addressing this matter promptly will help maintain a positive relationship between us and ensure the well-being of both our properties. If you require any assistance or have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you for your attention to this matter."

As you can see, ChatGPT did a good job of writing the email.  Instead of you spending 15 minutes trying to find the right words, it drafted your email in seconds.  But let’s say you’ve already told your neighbor about their fence and want the email to be firmer and more direct.  All you have to say to ChatGPT is: “Make the email firmer and more direct”.  ChatGPT produces the following:

"I hope this email finds you well, although I must express my growing concern over a pressing matter. It has come to my attention on multiple occasions that your cattle have been breaching the fence separating our fields. This trespassing has caused considerable damage to my property and poses a risk to both your animals and mine. I must insist that you take immediate action to rectify this issue by repairing the fence without any further delay. It is imperative that we maintain clear boundaries and protect the integrity of our respective properties. I trust you understand the urgency of this situation and will promptly address it. Should you require any assistance or have questions regarding this matter, please reach out to me as soon as possible."

By chatting with ChatGPT, it was able to learn what changes you wanted and to accommodate the request.  ChatGPT was able to successfully change the email to a firmer tone by understanding simple, common input terms.  This is the breakthrough of ChatGPT and other AI tools, AI is no longer the domain of the Elon Musk’s of the world, we all now have access to it.  You can set up a free account with ChatGPT and start using it today.

You may be thinking the email is a neat trick but what can it do to help me in the real world?  The possibilities are endless.  The following are just a few examples:

  • Provide creative names for a new business
  • Explain a complex concept
  • Research an issue
  • Draft invoices and receipts
  • Create marketing ideas and marketing materials
  • Generate a mission statement for your organization

Limitations of AI

AI is not close to perfect, at least not yet.  As the New York lawyer found out, ChatGPT and other AI tools can, and do, sometimes produce incorrect responses.  Therefore, AI should be used as a tool to provide ideas and assist with tasks but should not be relied upon as an infallible expert on all matters.  AI is not currently a capable substitute for important, technical issues such as medical diagnosis, legal services or tax advice.

The Agricultural and Resource Law Program has begun a project to monitor and measure the effectiveness of ChatGPT and other AI tools in providing legal assistance.  Over the next few months, we will provide updates and summaries of our findings.  We feel it is important to understand both the utility and limitations of AI in the legal and agricultural world.


AI technology presents numerous benefits, including improved efficiency, enhanced decision-making capabilities, and automation of tasks. AI can and will likely transform many industries including legal and agriculture. However, it is crucial to consider the current limitations of AI and the need for human oversight. Striking a balance between harnessing AI's potential benefits and addressing its limitations is vital for responsible and effective integration.


Author’s Note: Excluding the examples, ChatGPT wrote about 25% of this article, can you tell which part?


Get your free ChatGPT account here.





Posted In: