ChatGPT, OpenAI’s AI chatbot, shakes up the world of chatbots by taking an App Store-inspired approach, opening up a universe of possibilities for developers and users.
Not a week goes by that we don’t hear about the advancements in conversational agents and, more generally, artificial intelligence. A week after the arrival of GPT-4 (in ChatGPT), OpenAI announces new third-party plugins for ChatGPT. What may be seen as just an unimportant novelty is in fact an important and promising development in the field.
With these plugins, it can access third-party knowledge resources, tools, and databases, including the web. Available in alpha for registered users and developers on the waiting list of ChatGPT, OpenAI plans to prioritize a small number of ChatGPT Plus developers and subscribers before rolling out wider access.
Arguably the most intriguing plugin is OpenAI’s web browsing plugin, which allows ChatGPT to pull data from the internet to answer various questions.
Overcome a ChatGPT limitation thanks to a plugin
Without this plugin, ChatGPT’s knowledge is limited to information prior to about September 2021. This plugin fetches content from the internet using the Bing Search API and displays the websites visited to compile an answer, citing to the resources in ChatGPT answers. This is similar to the experience one can have on Microsoft’s Bing (based on GPT-4) but also on the future Google Bard.
A chatbot with access to the internet entails risks. This allows the chatbot to use untrustworthy resources. Meta’s BlenderBot 3.0, since discontinued, also had web access and quickly went astray (it had been criticized by its creator, Mark Zuckerberg). Among other things, conspiracy theories and offensive content were used.
This is because the live web is less organized than a static dataset and therefore less filtered. Search engines such as Google and Bing use their own security mechanisms to reduce the chance of untrustworthy content appearing at the top of their results, but these results can be manipulated.
On the other hand, it gives search engines a lot of power over the data that will feed the web-connected language models. Google was caught prioritizing its own services in its searches, such as responding to a travel query with data from Google Places instead of an outside source.
It is likely that a specific set of rules should be put in place for plugin developers, imposing certain restrictions and limits on them to ensure the security and quality of the plugins offered on the ChatGPT platform.
An approach inspired by the App Store
OpenAI encourages developers to refer to the documentation and API to design plugins for ChatGPT. Several partners such as Expedia, Instacart, Kayak, OpenTable and Zapier have already created their own plugins.
By using the Expedia plugin, users can design an itinerary via chat with ChatGPT, based on travel data from Expedia. This includes real-time availability and prices for flights, hotels, vacation rentals, activities and car rentals.
With our new AI Plugin, a traveler can start a conversation with #ChatGPT to plan their next trip, complete with access to up-to-date information on the availability and price of flights, hotels, holiday rentals, activities and car rentals around the world. https://t.co/cVgLL6qln9 pic.twitter.com/YAAIaj9zrEd
—Expedia Group (@ExpediaGroup) March 23, 2023
This move is reminiscent of Apple’s App Store when it was introduced on the iPhone, as it changed the way apps were developed and distributed. By enabling third-party developers to create and provide their own applications on its platform, Apple has revolutionized the mobile industry by making it easier for users to access a variety of applications.
Similarly, by providing plugins for ChatGPT, OpenAI creates an ecosystem where developers can design and share their own extensions, improving the user experience and opening up new possibilities for AI-powered chatbots.
Want to join a community of enthusiasts? Our disagreement welcomes you, it is a place of mutual help and passion around technology.