ChatGPT, OpenAI’s AI chatbot, is shaking up the world of chatbots by taking an App Store-inspired approach, opening up a universe of possibilities for developers and users.
Image generated by Midjourney by Aroged
Not a week goes by that we don’t hear about advances in the field of conversational agents and, more broadly, artificial intelligence. A week after the arrival of GPT-4 (in ChatGPT), OpenAI announces new third-party plugins for ChatGPT. What could be seen as just an unimportant novelty is actually a significant and promising development in the field.
These plugins allow it to access third-party knowledge sources, tools and databases, including the web. Available in alpha for ChatGPT waitlisted users and developers, OpenAI plans to prioritize a small number of ChatGPT Plus developers and subscribers before rolling out wider access.
Source : OpenAI
The most intriguing plugin is undoubtedly OpenAI’s web browsing plugin, which allows ChatGPT to pull data from the web to answer various questions posed to it.
A ChatGPT constraint overcome thanks to a plugin
Without this plugin, knowledge of ChatGPT is limited to information prior to around September 2021. This plugin fetches content from the web using the Bing Search API and displays the websites it visited to craft an answer, citing its sources in ChatGPT answers. This is comparable to the experience one can have on Microsoft’s Bing (based on GPT-4) but also on the future Google Bard.
A chatbot with access to the web comes with risks. This can cause the chatbot to use unreliable sources. Meta’s BlenderBot 3.0, since discontinued, also had web access and quickly went astray (it had criticized its creator, Mark Zuckerberg). Among other things, it used conspiracy theories and offensive content.
This is because the live web is less organized than a static data set and therefore less filtered. Search engines such as Google and Bing use their own security mechanisms to reduce the likelihood of unreliable content appearing at the top of results, but these results can be manipulated.
On the other hand, it gives search engines a lot of power over the data that will feed the web-connected language models. Google was caught prioritizing its own services in its searches, responding, for example, to a travel query with data from Google Places rather than an external source.
It is likely that a specific set of rules will have to be established for plugin developers, imposing certain restrictions and limits on them in order to ensure the security and quality of the plugins offered on the ChatGPT platform.
An approach inspired by the App Store
OpenAI encourages developers to consult its documentation and API to design plugins for ChatGPT. Several partners such as Expedia, Instacart, Kayak, OpenTable and Zapier have already created their own plugins.
By using the Expedia plugin, users can design a travel itinerary via chat with ChatGPT, based on travel data provided by Expedia. This includes real-time availability and prices for flights, hotels, vacation rentals, activities and car rentals.
With our new AI Plugin, a traveler can start a conversation with #ChatGPT to plan their next trip–complete with access to up-to-date information on the availability & price of flights, hotels, vacation rentals, activities, & car rentals across the world. https://t.co/cVgLL6qln9 pic.twitter.com/YAIaj9zrEd
— Expedia Group (@ExpediaGroup) March 23, 2023
This move is reminiscent of Apple’s App Store when it was introduced on the iPhone, as it transformed the way apps were developed and distributed. By allowing third-party developers to create and offer their own applications on its platform, Apple has revolutionized the mobile industry by making it easier for users to access a variety of applications.
We use plugins like we use applications
Similarly, by offering plugins for ChatGPT, OpenAI is creating an ecosystem where developers can design and share their own extensions, improving user experience and opening up new possibilities for AI-powered chatbots.
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