ChatGPT: Understanding Its Functionality, Evolution, and Operation

In the year of 2022, OpenAI impressed the globe when it unveiled ChatGPT and displayed a chatbot with an entirely novel level of power, scope, and utility. ChatGPT and the generative AI technology behind it are no longer a surprise, but keeping track of its capabilities can be a challenge as new features emerge. Notably, OpenAI now lets anyone craft custom AI apps called GPTs and distribute them on its proprietary app store. Even though OpenAI leads the generative AI campaign, it is fiercely pursued by Microsoft, Google, and startups far and wide. Generative AI still grapples with a core issue, as it generates information that sounds credible but may not be accurate. However, there’s no denying that AI has piqued the interest of computer scientists, attracted the attention of venture capitalists, and captivated everyone from educators to medical professionals to artists, as they ponder how AI will transform their work and lives. If you’re seeking to grasp ChatGPT, this FAQ is for you. Here’s a look at what’s happening.

What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is an online chatbot that responds to “prompts” — text requests that you type. ChatGPT has innumerable uses. You can request assistance with relationships, a summarized history of punk rock, or an explanation of the ocean’s tides. It excels at writing software and can also handle various other technical tasks, such as creating 3D models. 

ChatGPT is referred to as a generative AI because it generates these responses independently. Moreover, it can also produce overtly creative content like screenplays, poetry, jokes, and student essays. However, its broad nature makes it potent but tough to fully regulate. OpenAI has many measures in place to try to prevent abuse and other issues, but there is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game by researchers and others who seek to manipulate ChatGPT to perform unauthorized actions.

ChatGPT elicited awe when it began passing examinations. For instance, in 2023, AnsibleHealth researchers reported that “ChatGPT performed at or near the passing threshold” for the United States Medical Licensing Exam, implying that AI chatbots “might have the potential to assist with medical education, and potentially, clinical decision-making.” We are far from fully-fledged doctor-bots you can rely on, but the computing industry is investing substantial funds to address the challenges and broaden AI into new areas such as visual data. OpenAI is among those at the forefront. So buckle in because the AI adventure is going to be a sometimes terrifying, sometimes exhilarating ride.

What’s ChatGPT’s origin?
Artificial intelligence algorithms had been functioning for years before ChatGPT emerged. These systems were a significant departure from traditional programming, which adheres to a strict if-this-then-that methodology. AI, on the other hand, is trained to discern patterns in complex real-world data. A Google technology called transformers helped propel AI to a new level, leading to a type of AI called a large language model (LLM). These AIs are trained on massive amounts of text, including material such as books, blog posts, forum comments, and news articles. The training process internalizes the relationships between words, enabling chatbots to process input text and then generate what it deems to be appropriate output text. 

A subsequent phase of building an LLM is called reinforcement learning through human feedback, or RLHF. That’s when people review the chatbot’s responses and guide it toward good answers or away from bad ones. This significantly alters the tool’s behavior and is an important mechanism for attempting to mitigate abuse. OpenAI’s LLM is known as GPT, which stands for “generative pretrained transformer.” Training a new model is costly and time-consuming, typically taking weeks and requiring a data center packed with thousands of expensive AI acceleration processors. OpenAI’s latest LLM is called GPT-4 Turbo. Other LLMs include Google’s Gemini (formerly called Bard), Anthropic’s Claude, and Meta’s Llama.

ChatGPT is an interface that allows you to easily prompt GPT for responses. When it was released as a free tool in November 2022, its usage exploded far beyond what OpenAI had anticipated. When it launched ChatGPT, the company didn’t even envision it as a product. It was meant to be a mere “research preview,” a test that could garner some feedback from a broader audience, said ChatGPT product leader Nick Turley. Instead, it went viral, and OpenAI scrambled to merely keep the service up and running due to the high demand.

How do I use ChatGPT?
The most obvious method for using ChatGPT is through the ChatGPT website. Open it up, select the LLM version you want from the drop-down menu in the upper left corner, and type in a query. OpenAI released a ChatGPT app for iPhones and Android phones in 2023. In addition to finding them through the store, you can invoke them with the @ symbol in a prompt, similar to tagging a friend on Instagram. Microsoft uses GPT for its Bing search engine, which means you can also try out ChatGPT there. ChatGPT is also being incorporated into various hardware devices, including Volkswagen EVs, Humane’s voice-controlled lapel pin, and the Rabbit R1 device.

How much does ChatGPT cost?
It’s free, though you have to set up an account to use it. Advantages of the subscription, ChatGPT Plus, include faster response times, access to newer AI models like GPT-4, and the ability to upload images for inquiry. ChatGPT Plus offers a variety of benefits for a monthly fee of $20. With ChatGPT Plus, you can use GPTs, which are custom versions of ChatGPT from OpenAI, its business partners, and third-party developers. Various GPT custom apps are available through the GPT Store, including AllTrails personal trail recommendations, a Khan Academy programming tutor, and many more.

What are these GPTs?
GPTs are customized versions of ChatGPT from OpenAI, its business partners, and thousands of third-party developers who created their own GPTs. OpenAI calls it the “empty box problem,” indicating that many people encounter ChatGPT without knowing where to start. The company has found a way to narrow down the choices, making it easier to find GPTs with specific use cases like travel planning, cooking help, or an interactive, step-by-step tool for building a website.

OpenAI’s GPT store now offers millions of GPTs, though not all of them will be relevant to your needs. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman described GPTs as a way to make the general-purpose power of ChatGPT more refined, similar to how smartphones have a wealth of specific tools. In total, GPTs are OpenAI’s attempt to take control over how apps are found, used, and paid for, much like Apple with its App Store.

What GPTs are available now?
OpenAI’s GPT store now offers millions of GPT custom apps. A range of GPT custom apps are available, including AllTrails personal trail recommendations, a Khan Academy programming tutor, and more.

How up to date is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT’s responses are not very up to date; they are based on training data up through April 2023. Therefore, it’s not akin to a search engine whose bots frequently scour news sites for the latest information. Sadly, you cannot fully trust ChatGPT responses. Large language models work by selecting words based on probability, often adding randomness to the word selection to sound more natural. Consequently, the results can sometimes be convincing but are not necessarily true. These falsehoods are referred to as “hallucinations” in the AI business, and this is still a substantial problem with generative AI. When using ChatGPT, it’s best to verify facts elsewhere to ensure accuracy.

Can you use ChatGPT for nefarious purposes?
While you can attempt to use ChatGPT for improper purposes, OpenAI prohibits certain uses, such as those involving sexual or violent material, racist caricatures, and personal information like Social Security numbers or addresses. OpenAI works diligently to prevent harmful uses, but it recognizes the challenges involved. It is well-aware of the potential for various forms of abuse and misuse.

What about ChatGPT and cheating in school?
ChatGPT is well suited to a variety of school-related tasks, including writing essays, solving math problems, and writing reports. However, this raises concerns among educators who fear students will rely on ChatGPT instead of thinking for themselves. While some oppose the use of ChatGPT for such purposes, others see it as a tool that can help students get past writer’s block and improve their writing skills.

Is ChatGPT coming for my job?
The threat to employment is genuine, as managers seek to replace expensive humans with more cost-effective automated processes. Although ChatGPT has potential to replace white-collar jobs, AI companies present their bots as assistants and “copilots,” not replacements. At least for now, the sentiment is more positive than negative about chatbots, according to a survey by consulting firm PwC. It is uncertain how ChatGPT will affect employment in different fields in the long term.

How will ChatGPT affect programmers?
ChatGPT and its rivals can assist programmers in various software development tasks, such as framing up projects and filling in details. Microsoft’s GitHub, a site where developers can host projects and invite collaboration, uses an AI programming aid called Copilot, and 92% of U.S. developers say they’re using AI tools. ChatGPT and other AI programming aids still have much to prove, as they also raise concerns about plagiarism and secure coding. Despite the assistance provided by AI programming aids, it is uncertain if they will replace humans in programming in the near future.

In conclusion, ChatGPT undoubtedly has significant potential but also carries various challenges and concerns. As it continues to evolve and be utilized in various domains such as education, healthcare, and software development, it is essential to monitor its use and potential impact on society.

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