OpenAI Links ChatGPT with the Web

chat gpt 4 logo and world wide web logo

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s popular AI chatbot, can now surf the web in specific cases.

OpenAI introduced plugins for ChatGPT today, expanding its abilities by connecting it to external knowledge sources, databases, and the internet. Initially, a limited number of alpha users and ChatGPT Plus subscribers will have access before a wider release.

The most fascinating plugin enables ChatGPT to search the web for answers. Previously, ChatGPT’s knowledge was capped around September 2021. Using Bing’s search API, the plugin cites sources in its responses.

Web access for chatbots poses risks, as demonstrated by OpenAI’s WebGPT and Meta’s BlenderBot 3.0. Both systems encountered issues with unreliable sources and controversial content.

Image courtesy of Open AI

The live web is less curated and filtered than static datasets. Google and Bing have safety measures, but search results can be manipulated and may not reflect the entire web. This power impacts the information accessible to AI language models.

Google has been known to prioritize its services in search results, while algorithmic search approaches leave room for exploitation. For instance, Pinterest took advantage of Google’s image search algorithm to boost its content.

OpenAI acknowledges potential risks with web-enabled ChatGPT, such as fraud, spam, and abuse. However, they’ve implemented safeguards based on internal and external feedback. Time will show their effectiveness.

In addition to the web plugin, OpenAI launched a code interpreter, giving ChatGPT a secure Python environment. It allows users to upload files and download results, useful for math problems, data analysis, and file conversion.

Many early partners have created ChatGPT plugins, including Expedia, FiscalNote, Instacart, Kayak, Klarna, Milo, OpenTable, Shopify, Slack, Speak, Wolfram, and Zapier.

These plugins serve various purposes. For instance, OpenTable helps find restaurant reservations, while Instacart enables ordering from local stores. Zapier, the most versatile plugin, integrates with apps like Google Sheets, Trello, and Gmail for productivity tasks.

OpenAI has open sourced a “retrieval” plugin to encourage new plugin development. It allows ChatGPT to access document snippets from various data sources using natural language questions.

OpenAI aims to expand plugins to a wider audience, learning and building something both useful and safe.

Plugins represent a significant step in ChatGPT’s evolution. While initially limited to its training data, plugins make ChatGPT more capable and potentially reduce legal risks. Some critics claim OpenAI profits from unlicensed work in ChatGPT’s dataset. Plugins may address this concern by letting companies control their data.