OpenAI lets ChatGPT loose on the internet to search for up-to-date information
The new capability has been made available through an integration with Microsoft Corp.’s Bing search engine, the company said. Prior to today, ChatGPT had been restricted to surfacing the web as it was up to September 2021, which was when its initial training period ended.
The web browsing capability is available immediately to ChatGPT Plus subscribers and ChatGPT enterprise users, and is accessible through the drop-down menu under the GPT-4 selector within the application, OpenAI said.
ChatGPT, which is powered by generative artificial intelligence technology, had briefly gained the ability to access the internet before. In May, OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT’s first third-party plugins, including a Code Interpreter, which makes it possible for users to upload files, and Browsing, which was able to access the up-to-date internet using the Bing application programming interface.
However, OpenAI pulled the plug on the Browsing plugin just days after it was launched, when it realized that it was being used by many to bypass the paywalls of many websites. The feature is making a reappearance, with the company apparently finding a way to ensure it cannot get past those paywalls. According to OpenAI, ChatGPT now recognizes the “robots.txt” code that’s used by website owners to prevent search engine crawlers from indexing their subscription-only content.
Adding to the confusion a little, it should be noted that Microsoft’s Bing Chat feature, which is powered by an OpenAI model that’s said to be even more powerful than GPT-4, can also access the internet and return current information. Bing Chat provides more or less the same level of function as ChatGPT, and also offers citations for the source of the information it relates to users.
Nonetheless, the ability to scour the latest pages on the web will be a big boon to those who interact with ChatGPT through its official application, eliminating the need to go to Bing each time they require more current information. At the same time, it will enable ChatGPT to challenge Google LLC and its traditional search engine directly, said Damian Rollison, director of market insights at SOCi Inc., a marketing technology platform provider.
“This is a potential game changer that could bring OpenAI to a point of parity with Google’s search AI experiment, Search Generative Experience,” Rollison explained. “This also signals a potential shift for search advertisers and marketers. The emphasis may now move to optimizing for chatbot interactions and creating engaging organic content, not just paid ads, that can be surfaced when prompted.”
The update is the second major change to ChatGPT this week. Just two days ago, OpenAI said ChatGPT is now able to scan and analyze images and hold conversations over audio. Users can upload an image of a broken bicycle, for example, and ask ChatGPT what is wrong with it and how it can be fixed. Meanwhile, the audio capabilities mean users can have natural conversions with ChatGPT, similar to how they talk to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
Last week, OpenAI announced that its latest image generating model, DALL-E 3, can also take advantage of ChatGPT’s conversational prowess.
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