What is ChatGPT? Viral AI chatbot at heart of Microsoft-Google fight

What is ChatGPT? Viral AI chatbot at heart of Microsoft-Google fight

Schools, corporate boardrooms, and social media are abuzz with chatter about ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot developed by startup OpenAI. The tool is capable of taking input from users and producing human-like responses – from poetry in the style of William Shakespeare to advice on what to do for a child’s birthday party. It has also caused a crash of tension between Google and Microsoft, two of the largest technology companies in the world.

The ChatGPT sign displayed on the OpenAI website displayed on a laptop screen and the OpenAI logo displayed on a phone screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on February 2, 2023.

Jakub Porzycki | Nurfoto | Getty Images

What is ChatGPT? I asked the buzzy artificial intelligence chatbot that has ignited conversations in schools, corporate boardrooms and social media to clarify.

In its description, ChatGPT is “an AI-powered chatbot developed by OpenAI, based on the GPT (Generative Pretrained Transformer) language model. It uses deep learning techniques to generate human-like responses to text inputs in a conversational way.”

The tool is the talk of the business world. It has been mentioned in earnings calls by management from a range of companies, including oil giants, banks – and even industrial giant Caterpillar.

It has also raised concerns about possible abuse. In classrooms, students have used ChatGPT to generate entire essays, while hackers have begun testing it to write malicious code.

So what is ChatGPT, exactly? Here’s a simple guide to everything you need to know about the popular AI chatbot.

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot developed by San Francisco-based startup OpenAI. OpenAI was co-founded in 2015 by Elon Musk and Sam Altman and is backed by well-known investors – most notably Microsoft.

It is one of several examples of generative AI. These are tools that allow users to enter written requests and receive new human-like text or AI-generated images and videos.

ChatGPT provides an AI-generated answer to the question “Tell me about ChatGPT”.

Leon Neal | Getty Images

Previous examples include Dall-E, a text-to-image program from OpenAI that attracted attention from people amazed by its ability to create realistic, often absurd, pictures that match people’s text descriptions.

Lens, an app based on the open source artificial intelligence project Stable Diffusion, has been used to turn selfies into remarkable self-portraits inspired by everything from sci-fi to anime.

In ChatGPT’s case, the service is a text-based tool that can produce human-like responses to user requests — from poetry in the style of William Shakespeare to advice on what to do for a child’s birthday party.

ChatGPT is powered by a large language model, or LLM, which means it is programmed to understand human language and generate responses based on large corpora of data.

ChatGPT’s LLM is called GPT-3.5. It is an improvement of OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model.

With 175 billion parameters, GPT-3 is one of the largest and most powerful AI processing models to date.

What makes ChatGPT so impressive is its ability to produce human-like responses, thanks in no small part to the vast amounts of data it’s trained on.

“What’s exciting is that the answers are increasingly human-like, so what you’re seeing are things that we didn’t think computers could do before,” Jeffrey Wong, global head of innovation at professional services firm EY.

Another thing that sets ChatGPT apart is its ability to record context from previous user messages in a thread and use that to shape responses later in the conversation.

No other AI generating app has managed to achieve the kind of impact and virality that ChatGPT has.

It has been the subject of countless memes and conversations in the business community at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month. Chinese tech giant Baidu made its own version called Ernie Bot.

The chatbot registered 1 million in the five days after its release, according to a Dec. 5 tweet from Altman. By January, ChatGPT had amassed 100 million active users just two months after its launch, making it the fastest-growing consumer app in history, according to a UBS note published last week.

It took TikTok nine months to reach 100 million users and Instagram two and a half years.

January 31 was the biggest day ever for ChatGPT, with its website racking up a record 28 million daily hits, according to data from Similarweb. This was up 165% from a month ago.

One reason for ChatGPT’s popularity is its accessibility. The service is public to anyone via the OpenAI website, and its potential applications range from schoolwork to legal briefs.

Timing also played a role, according to Wong.

“When we come out of pandemics, you usually see this burst of creativity,” he said. “The biggest example is, after the Black Death, there was this Renaissance, this explosion of creativity across the board.”

Microsoft is betting billions on ChatGPT owner OpenAI. In late January, the tech titan announced a multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment deal with OpenAI.

Microsoft declined to disclose a specific dollar amount. A report from Semafor said the Redmond, Washington tech giant was in talks to invest up to $10 billion in the company. Microsoft previously invested $1 billion in OpenAI.

On Tuesday, Microsoft held a press event where it announced new AI-powered updates to its Bing search engine and Edge browser. Altman confirmed that Microsoft had incorporated some of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 language technologies into Bing.

This was a day after Google unveiled its own answer to ChatGPT, called Bard AI. The company plans to start rolling out Bard to Google Search in the coming weeks.

ChatGPT is seen as a threat to Google. Instead of turning to the Internet search pioneer for your most burning questions, people can rely on ChatGPT.

Google was actually early to the advanced conversational AI game, through the launch of its big language model called Lamda in 2021. It couldn’t launch its consumer product based on Lamda – and it hopes to change that with Bard, which is empowered according to the language model.

ChatGPT has its limitations. Responses from the chatbot may contain factual inaccuracies. For example, it may invent historical names and fictitious books that do not exist, or fail to solve some mathematical problems.

ChatGPT knowledge is still limited to 2021 data, but may improve over time. Going forward, the expectation is that ChatGPT will be the forerunner of much more advanced AI systems.

At the moment, experts say that generative artificial intelligence is not yet capable of achieving “general” human-like intelligence.

Artificial general intelligence, or AGI, is often considered the holy grail of the AI ​​community. It most commonly refers to the ability of an intelligent agent to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can.

Many companies hope to achieve this, from OpenAI to Google’s DeepMind.

The capabilities of GPT-3 have already led to excitement about OpenAI’s next-generation LLM model, GPT-4.

Tempering expectations, OpenAI’s Altman played down the hype surrounding GPT-4, stating in a recent interview with StrictlyVC that people were “begging to be disappointed.”

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