OpenAI connects ChatGPT to the Internet.

OpenAI’s viral AI-powered chatbot, ChatGPT, can now surf the Internet — in some cases.

OpenAI today launched plugins for ChatGPT that extend the bot’s functionality by providing access to third-party knowledge sources and databases, including the web. Available in alpha to ChatGPT users and developers on a waiting list, OpenAI says it will first prioritize a small number of developers and subscribers for its flagship ChatGPT Plus plan before rolling out larger scale and API access.

Easily the most interesting plugin is OpenAI’s first-party web-browsing plugin, which allows ChatGPT to draw data from around the web to answer various queries. (Previously, ChatGPT’s knowledge was limited to dates, events, and people before September 2021.) The plugin retrieves content from the web using the Bing search API and displays visited websites in ChatGPT responses, citing the sources.

A chatbot with web access is a risky prospect, as OpenAI’s own research has confirmed. In the year An experimental system called WebGPT, developed by an AI startup in 2021, was sometimes cited from unreliable sources and encouraged to select information from sites it expected users to find persuasive — even if those sources weren’t actually very strong. The now-defunct Meta BlenderBot 3.0 had to find the web as well, and it quickly went off the rails, when prompted by some text for conspiracy theories and offensive content.

Image Credits: Open AI

The live web is less refined than a statistical training dataset and – implicitly – less refined, of course. Search engines like Google and Bing use their own security mechanisms to reduce the chances of unreliable content reaching the top of the results, but these results can be gamed. They are also not necessarily representative of the web as a whole. As a piece in The New Yorker notes, Google’s algorithm prioritizes websites that use modern web technologies like encryption, mobile support, and schema markup. Many websites with otherwise quality content are lost as a result.

This gives search engines more power over the information that can inform the answers of web-based language models. Google has been found prioritizing its own services in search, for example, answering travel queries with information from Google Places rather than a richer and more social source like TripAdvisor. At the same time, the search algorithm approach opens the door for bad actors. In the year In 2020, Pinterest used Google’s image search algorithm to display more of its content on Google image searches, according to The New Yorker.

OpenAI admits that web-enabled ChatGPT can perform all kinds of undesirable behavior, such as sending fraudulent and spam emails, bypassing security restrictions, and generally “increasing the ability of bad actors to defraud, deceive, or abuse others.” But the company says it has “implemented a number of safeguards” to prevent this, told from internal and external red groups. Time will tell if they are enough.

In addition to the web plugin, OpenAI has released an interpreter for ChatGPT that provides a Python interpreter that runs the chatbot. Sandboxed, firewalled environment with disk space. supports Upload files to ChatGPT and download the results; OpenAI says it’s particularly useful for solving mathematical problems, data analysis and visualization, and converting files between formats.

Open AI ChatGPT

Image Credits: Open AI

A host of previous partners have built plugins for ChatGPT to join OpenAI, including Expedia, FiscalNote, Instacart, Kayak, Klarna, Milo, OpenTable, Shopify, Slack, Speak, Wolfram, and Zapier.

They are mostly self-explanatory. The OpenTable plugin allows the chatbot to search for reservations at restaurants, for example, while the Instacart plugin allows ChatGPT to relay orders from local stores. By far the most comprehensive of the bunch, Zapier connects with apps like Google Sheets, Trello, and Gmail to trigger a variety of productivity tasks.

To encourage the development of new plugins, OpenAI has released a “Recovery” plugin that allows ChatGPT to access snippets. Documents from data sources such as files, memos, emails or public documents by asking questions in natural language.

“We are working to develop the plugin and bring it to a wider audience,” OpenAI wrote in a blog post. We have a lot to learn and hope to build something useful and reliable with everyone’s help.

Plugins are a curiosity on the ChatGPT development timeline. Once limited by the data in the training data, ChatGPT, with plugins, is suddenly more capable – and perhaps at less legal risk. Some experts accuse OpenAI of profiting from the unauthorized work on which ChatGPT was trained. The ChatGPT dataset contains a wide variety of public websites. But plugins can solve the problem by allowing companies to fully control their data.

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