What is ChatGPT?

The tech world is going gaga over the latest machine-learning wunderkind. Developed by the San Francisco-based company OpenAI, ChatGPT is a new artificial intelligence chatbot that provides human-quality responses to questions in an awe-inspiringly creative, detailed and eerily conversational manner. The technology has the potential to eventually change how humans and computers exchange information.

ChatGPT has already amassed over a million users since its release to the general public on November 30th. In noteworthy commentary, tech journalists have semi-seriously suggested that ChatGPT might eventually replace Google as an internet-based search tool.

ChatGPT explained and explored

Silicon Valley forecaster and consulting associate professor at Stanford University, Paul Saffo, says “This is a big deal,” adding that this is where the whole of technology is headed.

The company behind the tech, OpenAI, launched in 2015 with funding from Elon Musk and others, who say that the technology isn’t yet perfect, but that it holds immense and intriguing potential.

What exactly does ChatGPT do?

Like a standard search engine, ChatGPT can offer unique answers to sophisticated questions. According to one podcast pundit, the platform operates ‘as though it had swallowed the internet,’ meaning that the technology can provide much of the same information as Bing, Google, Firefox and other search engines, although it does so in what is arguably a more distinctive and more authoritative way.

In addition, ChatGPT also has creative composition capacities, meaning that it can write long-form text with coherent sentences and a natural-seeming flow.

Further, it can help programmers write code and review it for bugs. ChatGPT not only explains any identified bugs, but fixes them and describes the technical nuances of the fixes.

We asked ChatGPT ‘What is ChatGPT used for?’ and here’s exactly what it said:

“…Some possible uses for ChatGPT include:

  • Creating chatbots for customer service or support
  • Generating responses to user input in chat-based games or interactive experiences
  • Building conversational interfaces for applications such as voice assistants or messaging apps
  • Generating personalized responses to user input in social media or messaging platforms

It is important to note that ChatGPT, like all language models, is a tool that can be used in a variety of ways, and its effectiveness will depend on how it is implemented and used.”

For search, is ChatGPT better than Google?

The ChatGPT vs. Google debate: At present, the internet search industry provides a series of links when queries are submitted. If you ask Google for sports news, approximately 10 blue links appear and you can select which one to click on. In contrast, ChatGPT provides a single, clear and articulate response in text.

According to one analyst,“The ChatGPT vs. Google Search debate misses the nuance of query classes. For factual, authoritative queries around sports, finance, people and computation, Google wins. For creativity, long-tail, exploratory, high-spam queries, like recipes, synonyms, essays, coding, ChatGPT wins.”

In general, ChatGPT is not likely to be considered inherently superior to Google. Plus, the Google already retains its own mega-force AI chatbot that can rival the new competitor in question. Called LaMDA, Google’s AI made the news after a Google engineer claimed that it was sentient. This contention was untrue, but highlights just how powerful this technology really is.

ChatGPT AI training

The ChatGPT tool was trained using massive quantities of data about code and with troves of information pulled from the internet. For instance, the technology was ‘fed’ Reddit discussions in order to assist it with language learning and to help it configure human-quality responses.

The technology was also trained via human feedback in order to teach the AI about what humans want when they ask a question. What separates ChatGPT from previous chatbots is that it was trained to recognize the human intent in a question, and to provide useful, honest and harmless answers.

ChatGPT, writing and having fun

The staff of a major international newspaper asked the ChatGPT tool to write several stories with fictional characters. In one longer-form story prompt, the humans asked the AI to create a narrative where Star Wars character Obi-Wan Kenobi is present in The Prince of Egypt, a movie that details the biblical story of Exodus. ChatGPT responded with a brief set of paragraphs, and included information that was not offered in the initial prompt – a testament to ChatGPT’s training.

Eventually, the newspaper staff wanted to see just how involved and specific a ChatGPT story could become. They gave the AI an extremely specific story prompt, asking it to write 1/3 of a story where Donald Duck, Yoda from Star Wars and former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez duke it out in the fictional Second Battle of Hover Dam, as shown in the video game Fallout New Vegas. According to the media outlet, the chatbot provided a passable story.

In addition to writing narratives, the AI chatbot can also compose songs, poems, dialogues and screenplays. One question on the minds of many is ‘Will technologies like ChatGPT ultimately replace the need for creative work and certain creative professions?’

OpenAI CEO’s appraisal of ChatGPT

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has offered an honest appraisal of the chatbot’s current state: Regarding the propensity for errors on the part of the chatbot, “Certainly it is more accurate than your average conspiracy theorist,” Saffo partially joked. “This is a tech demonstration…the first of what is to follow.”

While the technology has yet to evolve, the underlying technology and its capabilities may offer a glimpse into the future.

Further information

Not all of the ways in which the chatbot can be used have been discovered. People are still exploring the possibilities, potential and results. Interested in taking it out for a test spin and kicking the tires? Experiment with ChatGPT here: https://chat.openai.com/chat

For more insights into what will make headlines in 2023, please see CyberTalk.org’s past coverage.

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