What is ChatGPT? Here’s how to use the popular AI chatbot
WChatGPT has continued to dazzle the internet with AI-generated content, morphing from a novel chatbot into a piece of technology that is driving the next era of technological innovation. Not everyone’s on board yet, though, and you’re probably wondering: What’s all the fuss about?
Made by OpenAI, well-known for having developed the text-to-image generator DALL-E, it’s currently available for anyone to try out for free. Here’s what ChatGPT is, how to use it, and how it could change the future of the internet.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a natural language AI chatbot. At its most basic, that means you can ask it any question, and it will answer.
As opposed to a simple voice assistant like Siri, though, ChatGPT is built on what is called an LLM (Large Language Model). These neural networks are trained on huge quantities of information from the internet for deep learning. This is implied in the name of ChatGPT, which stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer. In the case of the current version of ChatGPT, it’s based on the GPT-3.5 LLM. The model behind ChatGPT was trained on all sorts of web content including websites, books, social media, news articles, and more — all fine-tuned in the language model by both supervised learning and RLHF (Reinforcement Learning From Human Feedback). OpenAI says this use of human AI trainers is really what makes ChatGPT stand out.
How to use ChatGPT
First, go to chat.openai.com. If it’s your first time, you’ll need to set up a free account with OpenAI before getting started. You have the option of choosing an easy login with a Google or Microsoft account, or just entering your email address. You’ll be asked next to enter a phone number; however, keep in mind that you cannot use a virtual phone number (VoIP) to register for OpenAI. You will then receive a confirmation number, which you will enter on the registration page to complete the setup.
Once you see some housekeeping rules about ChatGPT, including potential errors in data, how OpenAI collects data, and how users can submit feedback — all of which has some wondering about whether or not ChatGPT is safe to use. Once you’re through that, you know you have successfully registered. You’re in!
Using the ChatGPT chatbot itself is fairly simple, as all you have to do is type in your text and receive the information. The key here is to be creative and see how your ChatGPT responds to different prompts. If you don’t get the intended result, try tweaking your prompt or giving ChatGPT further instructions.
For example, inputting “explain how the solar system was made” will give a more detailed result with more paragraphs than “how was the solar system made,” even though both inquiries will give fairly detailed results. Take it a step further by giving ChatGPT more guidance about style or tone, saying “explain how the solar system was made as a middle school teacher.”
You also have the option for more specific inputting requests for an essay with a specific number of paragraphs or a Wikipedia page. We got an extremely detailed result with the request “write a four-paragraph essay explaining Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” And remember, ChatGPT is great at making tweaks to previous answers, so you can always ask for more detail, ask it to rewrite something, or ask further questions.
If there is enough information available, the generator will fulfill the commands with accurate details. Otherwise, there is potential for ChatGPT to begin filling in gaps with incorrect data. OpenAI notes that these instances are rare, but hallucinations certainly do happen. The brand also notes that ChatGPT, which uses the GPT-3.5 LLM (large language model), currently has “limited knowledge of world events after 2021.”
Even so, you have the option to input queries continuously until you close your browser or reset the thread to clear your previous requests. You also have the option to use ChatGPT in dark mode or light mode.
Unlike Bing Chat, which can now generate images with Bing Image Creator, ChatGPT only works with text.
Is ChatGPT free to use?
Yes, the basic version of ChatGPT is completely free to use. There’s no limit to how much you can use ChatGPT in a day, though there is a word and character limit for responses.
It’s not free for OpenAI to continue running it, of course. Estimates are currently that OpenAI spends around $3 million per month to continue running ChatGPT, which is around $100,000 per day. Beyond the cost of the servers themselves, some egregious information has recently come out about what else has been done to train the language model against producing offensive content.
OpenAI has also recently announced a new paid, premium version of its chatbot, called ChatGPT Plus. It’s not available just yet, but you can currently only join the waitlist, and the eventual price will be $20 per month. ChatGPT Plus will provide access even during peak times, faster responses, and first access to new features like GPT-4.
Common uses for ChatGPT
Well, that’s the fun part. Since its launch, people have been experimenting to discover everything the chatbot can and can’t do — and some of the results have been mind-blowing.
Learning the kinds of prompts and follow-up prompts that ChatGPT responds well to requires some experimentation though. Much like we’ve learned to get the information we want from traditional search engines, it can take some time to get the best results from ChatGPT. If you want to get started, we have a roundup of the best ChatGPT tips.
It really all depends on what you want out of it. To start out, try using it to write a template blog post, for example, or even blocks of code if you’re a programmer.
Our writers experimented with ChatGPT too, attempting to see if it could handle holiday shopping or even properly interpret astrological makeup. In both cases, we found limitations to what it could do while still being thoroughly impressed by the results.
But the fun is in trying it out yourself. Whether you think ChatGPT is an amazing piece of tech or will lead to the destruction of the internet as we know it, it’s worth trying out for yourself to see just what it’s capable of.
You can’t ask anything, though. OpenAI has safeguards in place in order to “build a safe and beneficial artificial general intelligence.” That means any questions that are hateful, sexist, racist, or discriminatory in any way are generally off-limits.
What are ChatGPT plugins?
The announcement of ChatGPT plugins caused a great stir in the developer community, with some calling it “the most powerful developer platform ever created.” AI enthusiasts have compared it to the surge of interest in the iOS App Store when it first launched, greatly expanding the capabilities of the iPhone.
Essentially, developers will be able to build plugins directly for ChatGPT, to open it up to have access to the whole of the internet and connect directly to the APIs of specific applications. It’s ChatGPT out in the real world. Some of the examples provided by OpenAI include applications being able to perform actions on behalf of the user, retrieve real-time information, and access knowledge-based information.
It’s currently only available in a waitlist, but early applications to use plugins with ChatGPT include Expedia, Instacart, Slack, and OpenTable.
Outside of the ChatGPT app itself, many apps have announced partnerships with OpenAI using the ChatGPT API. These include Snapchat, as well as the extensive integration into the Microsoft 365 suite of apps.
Latest ChatGPT controversies
Although ChatGPT is a very useful tool, it isn’t free of problems. Many are considered about what this human-like generative AI could mean for the future of the internet, so much so that thousands of tech leaders and prominent public figures have signed a petition to slow down the development. It’s even been banned in Italy due to privacy concerns, alongside complaints from the FTC.
There’s also the concern that generative AI like ChatGPT could result in the loss of many jobs — as many as 300 million worldwide, according to Goldman Sachs.
Beyond that, multiple controversies have also sprung up around people using ChatGPT to handle tasks that should probably be handled by an actual person.
For example, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody School was recently under fire for generating an email about a mass shooting and the importance of community. In addition, JPMorgan Chase is restricting the use of the AI chatbot for workers, especially for generating emails.
The largest controversy to spring up since the release has been ChatGPT passing the Wharton MBA exam. According to the school, ChatGPT scored between a B- and B on the MBA exam, and provided “excellent” responses.
What’s the future of ChatGPT?
There’s no doubt that the tech world has become obsessed with ChatGPT right now, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. ChatGPT-4, the next iteration of the model, has officially launched, though it’s currently only available for ChatGPT Plus. We do know, however, that Bing Chat is at least partially built on the GPT-4 language model, even if certain elements such as visual input weren’t available.
But the bigger development will be how ChatGPT continues to be integrated into other applications. Microsoft reportedly made a multibillion-dollar investment in ChatGPT, which is already starting to pay off. The first integration was in Teams Premium, with some of OpenAI’s features showing up to automate tasks and provide transcripts. Most prominently, Microsoft revealed 365 Copilot, which integrates ChatGPT natural language prompts directly into Office apps like Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more.
There have even been reports that GPT-5 is on the way and could finish training later this year, with some people claiming that it would achieve AGI (artificial general intelligence). That’s a big, controversial statement, but clearly, things are progressing at a rapid pace.
All that to say, if you think AI is a big deal now, just wait until it’s built into the most common applications that are used for work and school.
Other things to know about ChatGPT
Who created ChatGPT?
ChatGPT was created by an organization called OpenAI, a San Francisco-based AI research lab. The organization started as a non-profit meant for collaboration with other institutions and researchers, funded by high-profile figures like Peter Thiel and Elon Musk.
OpenAI later became a for-profit company in 2019 and is now led by its CEO, Sam Altman. It runs on Microsoft’s Azure system infrastructure and is powered by Nvidia’s GPUs.
Can ChatGPT be detected?
Teachers, school administrators, and developers are already finding different ways around this and banning the use of ChatGPT in schools. Others are more optimistic about how ChatGPT might be used for teaching, but plagiarism is undoubtedly going to continue being an issue in terms of education in the future. There are some ideas about how ChatGPT could “watermark” its text and fix this plagiarism problem, but as of now, detecting ChatGPT is still incredibly difficult to do.
ChatGPT recently launched a new version of its own plagiarism detection tool, with hopes that it will squelch some of the criticism around how people are using the text generation. It uses a new feature called “AI text classifier,” which operates in a way familiar to other plagiarism software. According to OpenAI, however, the tool is still a work in progress and is “imperfect.”
Other tools like GPTZero claim to help detect ChatGPT plagiarism, too. Although they work, some extra editing on AI responses can still trip up these tools.
Are ChatGPT chats private?
It depends on what you mean by private. All chats with ChatGPT are used by OpenAI to further tune the models, which can actually involve the use of human trainers. No, that doesn’t mean a human is looking through every question you ask ChatGPT, but there’s a reason OpenAI warns against providing any personal information to ChatGPT.
It should be noted that if you don’t delete your chats, the conversations will appear in the left sidebar. Unlike with other chatbots, individual chats within a conversation cannot be deleted, though they can be edited using the pencil icon that appears when you hover over a chat. When you delete the conversations, however, it’s not that ChatGPT forgets they ever happened — it’s just that they disappear from the sidebar chat history.
When was ChatGPT released?
ChatGPT originally launched to the public in November of 2022 by OpenAI. The chatbot is based on the GPT-3.5 LLM, which is a fine-tuned version of GPT-3, a model first launched on March 15, 2022. GPT-3 itself, though, has been around for a few years now. It was first released in June of 2020, but only as an autoregressive language model.
The predecessors to GPT-3 had very limited public exposure. GPT-2 was announced in February of 2019, and the first research paper on GPT was published on OpenAI’s website in 2018.
Will ChatGPT replace Google?
Google has been attempting what ChatGPT can do now for decades, and the chatbot reportedly set off a “code red” within Google. In response, the company rolled out Google Bard, though the company is positioning it more as a separate product. We expect more of these ChatGPT alternatives to pop up in the coming months, as we’ve already seen with services like Jasper AI.
Microsoft’s approach with Bing Chat attempts to integrate search and AI together in a much more direct way.
One of the problems with ChatGPT replacing Google Search is the lack of sourcing. Microsoft attempts to solve that with Bing Chat by offering links for further research (as does Google Bard).
Is Bing Chat the same as ChatGPT?
Microsoft has officially brought ChatGPT to Bing in the form of Bing Chat. After a long beta period, it was officially available to try out. But unlike ChatGPT, Bing Chat does require downloading the latest version of Edge. So Safari or Chrome users are out of luck.
In the early days of its release, Bing Chat was capable of some unhinged responses, but Microsoft has been quick to tame things a bit. It was recently announced that Bing Chat is using the latest GPT-4 language model, meaning it’s more powerful and accurate than ChatGPT. The new Edge Copilot mode also provides a more user-friendly way to get started, offering suggested prompts, links to learn more, and ways to tweak the kinds of answers it gives you.
Is Google Bard the same as ChatGPT?
Unlike Bing Chat, Google Bard uses an entirely different LLM to power its natural language capabilities. Upon its release, Bard has been using LaMDA, the company’s own model, which stands for Language Model for Dialogue Applications. As has been demonstrated from early on, Bard didn’t have quite the precision in its answers.
Reports indicate, however, that Bard is getting a massive update soon, going from being trained on 30 billion parameters up to 600 billion parameters. That could make it closer to what is possible with GPT-4.
Can ChatGPT be used for essay writing?
The use of ChatGPT has been full of controversy, with many onlookers considering how the power of AI will change everything from search engines to novel writing.
Essay writing for students is one of the most obvious examples of where ChatGPT could become a problem. ChatGPT might not write this article all that well, but it feels particularly easy to use for essay writing. Some generative AI tools, such as Caktus AI, are built specifically for this purpose.
Is there a ChatGPT bug bounty program?
Yes. A bug bounty program for ChatGPT was recently announced. The program was unveiled officially on OpenAI’s website, which detail the types of “cash awards” that are being offered. They range from $200 to up to $20,000 for what it calls “exceptional discoveries.”
While addressing security researchers interested in getting involved in the program, OpenAI said it recognized “the critical importance of security and view it as a collaborative effort. By sharing your findings, you will play a crucial role in making our technology safer for everyone.”
Do you need to download ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is available via a webpage, so no downloading is needed. OpenAI has yet to release an official app, despite the fact that app stores are full of fake versions. These should be installed and used with caution, as they are not official ChatGPT apps.
There are a couple of ways to install ChatGPT, though. First, you can navigate to the ChatGPT website and save it as a Windows app through Edge. Go to the site, click the ellipsis menu, and hover over Apps. Select Install this site as an app to load ChatGPT from your desktop.
Other tools like MacGPT also allow shortcuts to access the browser service from your desktop. Recently, OpenAI made the ChatGPT API available to everyone, and we’ve seen a surge in tools leveraging the technology, such as Discord’s Clyde chatbot.
Can you use ChatGPT on iPhone or Android?
But if you’re curious about how to use ChatGPT on your phone, you have a few different options. In addition to just using it in a browser, there’s even a way to replace Siri with ChatGPT on your iPhone, as well as some useful mobile apps like Perplexity AI.
Just remember — ChatGPT doesn’t currently have an official mobile app available. Many of the apps you’ll find in app stores are scams, including even some that you’ll find in Google Search results.
What does the ChatGPT ‘At Capacity’ error mean?
Many people attempting to use ChatGPT have been getting an “at capacity” notice when trying to access the site. It’s likely behind the move to try and use unofficial paid apps, which have already flooded app stores and scammed thousands into paying for a free service.
Because of how much ChatGPT costs to run, it seems as if OpenAI has been limiting access when its servers are “at capacity.” It can take as long as a few hours to wait out, but if you’re patient, you’ll get through eventually. Of all the problems facing ChatGPT right now, this had been the biggest hurdle for keeping people from using it more. In some cases, demand has been so high that ChatGPT has gone down for several hours for maintenance multiple times over the past few months.
This seems to be less of a problem recently, though, as demand has normalized and OpenAI has learned to manage the traffic better, but in the middle of the day, it still makes an appearance from time to time.
What is Auto-GPT?
Built on GPT-4, Auto-GPT is the latest evolution of AI technology to cause a stir in the industry. It’s not directly related to ChatGPT or OpenAI — instead, it’s an open-source Python application that got into the hands of developers all over the internet when it was published on GitHub.
With ChatGPT or ChatGPT Plus, the capabilities of the AI are limited to a single chat window. Auto-GPT, at its simplest, is making AI autonomous. It can be given a set of goals, and then take the necessary steps towards accomplishing that goal across the internet, including connecting up with applications and software.
According to the official description on GitHub, Auto-GPT is an “experimental open-source application showcasing the capabilities of the GPT-4 language model. This program, driven by GPT-4, chains together LLM ‘thoughts’, to autonomously achieve whatever goal you set. As one of the first examples of GPT-4 running fully autonomously, Auto-GPT pushes the boundaries of what is possible with AI.”
The demo used on the GitHub page is simple — just create a recipe appropriate for Easter and save it to a file. What’s neat is how Auto-GPT breaks down the steps the AI is taking to accomplish the goal, including the “thoughts” and “reasoning” behind its actions. Auto-GPT is already being used in a variety of different applications, with some touting it as the beginning of AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) due to its autonomous nature.