The University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) is deploying a customized generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) solution called ZotGPT Chat.

According to the school, ZotGPT is one of the first of its kind in the UC system, and was created to allow UC Irvine affiliates to explore AI in a safer, tailor-made environment.

The tool officially launched for faculty and staff earlier this year and will shortly be available for students.

ZotGPT Chat is currently available in an open-beta version. The school said that faculty and staff adoption is strong and accelerating as the university works to refine and add new features.

“AI is a fast-moving space, and ZotGPT is a great way for our community and affiliates to start to use these tools and, over time, to transform how we do our work and how we interact with others,” said Tom Andriola, the university’s vice chancellor for data and information technology.

ZotGPT Chat offers a mobile phone experience and voice chat functionality. Additionally, the program protects the confidentiality of personal and institutional data, including uploaded files. The school said that this ensures outside vendors cannot use proprietary data to train their models – a feature that commercial AI services typically do not offer.

“ZotGPT is about more than supporting innovation with the latest tools,” said Andriola. “It’s also about ensuring that we provide broad access to these new tools across our community in a secure and responsible way, with the proper support structures. ZotGPT can be leveraged for teaching, research, and redesigning work processes and can serve as an engine for facilitating collaboration. We look forward to fully embracing the potential of generative AI in 2024 and beyond.”

The school said it will add additional features to ZotGPT in the future, including internet-enabled responses, image generation, custom chatbots using departmental data or websites, and the ability of faculty and staff to use ZotGPT Chat in their own software programs.

“ZotGPT Chat gives UC Irvine researchers a powerful platform to explore the potential of generative AI in ways that protect the integrity of our data while simultaneously providing us access to ‘industrial-strength’ tools,” said Errol Arkilic, the university’s chief innovation officer. “With its access, we can cost-effectively run comprehensive experiments across a wide range of applications.”

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