ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot capable of having conversations with people and generating unique, human-like text responses. By using a large language model (LLM), which is trained on vast amounts of data from the internet, ChatGPT can answer questions, compose essays, offer advice and write code in a fluent and natural way.
Created by artificial intelligence company OpenAI in 2022, ChatGPT is a large language model chatbot capable of communicating with users in a human-like way. It can answer questions, create recipes, write code and offer advice.
The GPT in ChatGPT stands for “general pre-trained transformer,” which is a language model that uses deep learning and natural language processing to generate natural, human-like text based on a given text input. In short, ChatGPT “allows us to talk to AI, and it allows AI to talk back to us,” Jeff Kagan, a tech industry analyst, told Built In. “It’s got the power to do a sort of computer version of thinking.”
What Is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a generative AI chatbot created by OpenAI. It’s capable of carrying on conversations with human users and generating a wide range of text outputs including recipes, computer code, essays and personal letters. It can also critique the user’s writing, summarize long documents and translate text from one language to another. The paid version of ChatGPT also offers features like image and voice inputs and integrations with other OpenAI services like the image generator DALL-E.
How Does ChatGPT Work?
ChatGPT is powered by a large language model made up of neural networks trained on a massive amount of information from the internet, including Wikipedia articles and research papers. This allows ChatGPT to take a sequence of words a user gives it, such as a half-completed sentence, and fill in the blanks with the most statistically probable word given the surrounding context — sort of like auto-complete. The process happens iteratively, building from words to sentences, to paragraphs, to pages of text.
In order to sift through terabytes of internet data and transform that into a text response, ChatGPT uses a technique called transformer architecture (hence the “T” in its name).
The language models used in ChatGPT are specifically optimized for dialogue and were trained using reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF). This approach incorporates human feedback into the training process so it can better align its outputs with user intent (and carry on with more natural-sounding dialogue).
“It actually integrates and systematizes humans’ subjective judgment into the model training process,” Sam Stone, the director of product management, pricing and data products at real estate tech firm Opendoor, told Built In. This is used to not only help the model determine the best output, but it also helps improve the training process, enabling it to answer questions more effectively.
Who Created ChatGPT?
OpenAI, an AI research company based in San Francisco, created and launched ChatGPT on November 30, 2022.
OpenAI was co-founded in 2015 by billionaire business mogul Elon Musk and former Y Combinator President Sam Altman, along with a handful of other entrepreneurs. Notable investors include Microsoft and Thrive Capital, as well as Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel and Jessica Livingston, founding partner of Y Combinator.
Initially, OpenAI was a non-profit focused on developing artificial intelligence “in the way that is more likely to benefit humanity as whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return,” according to a statement from 2015. While OpenAI still operates a non-profit arm, it officially became a “capped profit” corporation in 2019.
What Can ChatGPT Do?
ChatGPT is quite practical, particularly in business applications. And it has affected how everyday people experience the internet in “profound ways,” according to Raghu Ravinutala, the co-founder and CEO of customer experience startup Yellow.ai.
“We’ve already seen it,” Ravinutala told Built In. “And I think we are in for much bigger things as this technology develops and gets adopted.”
ChatGPT is one of many AI content generators tackling the art of the written word — whether that be a news article, press release, college essay or sales email.
All a user has to do is hop on ChatGPT and type in a quick prompt. If they want to create a blog post about the health benefits of sweet potatoes, they just need to type in “Write an article about the benefits of sweet potatoes.” The model will then generate a draft that the user can edit and refine as needed.
Edit, Translate and Summarize Content
ChatGPT can be used for other writing tasks beyond just content creation. It can translate a piece of text into different languages, summarize several pages of text into a paragraph, finish a partially complete sentence, generate dialogue and more. It can also be fine-tuned for specific use cases such as legal documents or medical records, where the model is trained on domain-specific data.
Not only can ChatGPT generate working computer code of its own (in many different languages), but it can also translate code from one language to another, and debug existing code. By virtue of its training, ChatGPT has read countless more documentations than any one individual programmer could ever see, which is why it can write code in a matter of seconds, as well as provide step-by-step explanations as it does it.
Some developers were so excited by ChatGPT’s capabilities that they used it to actually create their own apps, including a spreadsheet assistant capable of performing complex calculations in response to a simple request.
ChatGPT can be used as a search engine. Sort of. Instead of a list of websites, though, it’ll provide users with a simple list of answers. For instance, if you ask ChatGPT a question like “What sites should I see in my upcoming vacation to Paris?” or “What are some gift ideas for Father’s Day?” it’ll offer you its own answers. Some people have even used ChatGPT for advice on relationships and finances.
Help With Customer Service
ChatGPT and other conversational AI models have generated a lot of buzz in the customer services space, offering a way to automate responses to customer queries as opposed to relying on a human agent. Ravinutala said large language models like ChatGPT can be used by customer experience companies to automate customer service interactions, allowing companies to better understand user intent and respond accordingly. He added that Yellow.ai’s sales team has already begun using ChatGPT to compose emails to customers, with humans making minor edits when needed.
ChatGPT Use Cases
- Compose emails
- Generate social media copy
- Field customer support requests
- Summarize long documents
- Generate computer code
- Edit or critique user-provided text
- Transcribe and summarize video and audio content
- Generate recipes
- Create workout plans
- Look up information
- Debug code
- Teach games
How to Access ChatGPT
To access ChatGPT on a web browser, visit ChatGPT’s website at https://chat.openai.com/auth/login. If ChatGPT is at capacity, put in your email address to get notified when there is more space.
Before using ChatGPT for the first time, you must create an OpenAI account and accept the terms of service. Once you’re in, you can start using it immediately.
Is ChatGPT Free?
ChatGPT is free to use. But for those who want an upgrade over the free version, a paid subscription version, called ChatGPT Plus, is also available. It costs $20 a month to register.
For $20/month, ChatGPT Plus offers:
• Access to ChatGPT, even during peak times when the server is at capacity.
• Faster response times.
• Priority access to new ChatGPT features and improvements.
• Ability to generate images using DALL-E
Despite its strengths, ChatGPT isn’t perfect. It has its limitations — particularly when it comes to issues of inaccuracy and bias.
ChatGPT’s reliance on data found online makes it vulnerable to false information, which in turn can impact the veracity of its statements. This often leads to what experts call “hallucinations,” where the output generated is stylistically correct, but factually wrong.
Hallucinations can become a huge issue if ChatGPT is being used to, say, write a news article, or ask questions about historical events, or get healthcare advice. Or, in the case of one New York lawyer, use ChatGPT for a brief in a client’s personal injury case (where it inadvertently cited six non-existent court decisions).
Instead of asking for clarification on an ambiguous question, or saying that it doesn’t know the answer, ChatGPT will just take a guess at what the question means and what the answer should be. And, because the model is able to produce incorrect information in such an eloquent way, the fallacies are hard to spot and control.
This all has led to quite a bit of backlash against ChatGPT.
“It’s still an experimentation,” Ravinutala said. “You cannot 100 percent rely on ChatGPT’s results.”
ChatGPT also produces biased results. Most people know that, just because something is on the internet, that doesn’t make it true. Racism, sexism and all manner of prejudices run rampant online, and it is up to the individual to decide how much weight to give it. ChatGPT doesn’t have that ability. So, despite the guardrails OpenAI has put in place to prevent it, the chatbot still has a tendency to let biases (both subtle and unsubtle) creep into its outputs.
“There are things that have existed in the past that these statistically oriented models will then pick up on, but we don’t want to project those associations into the future. It’s especially dangerous if we don’t even know what those associations are,” Stone said. “We’ve got to be really careful.”
Professional writers and marketers across a variety of industries are worried ChatGPT and other AI writers could take their jobs.
Stone doesn’t think this is likely, though: “When technology makes people more productive, more people tend to be employed,” he said, likening it to what the invention of the personal computer or the internet did for the productivity of office workers. Technology like ChatGPT will serve as a resource, not a replacement, for a lot of professionals. “We’ll use language models to help us write first drafts, to brainstorm. But then the value of domain experts will continue to refine that and make it better than whatever a model can produce.”
ChatGPT’s impressive writing abilities have not gone without some controversy. Teachers are concerned that students will use it to cheat, prompting some schools to completely block access to it.
ChatGTP 4 vs. ChatGPT
In March 2023, OpenAI released GPT-4, a much-anticipated language model that will be the underlying engine powering ChatGPT going forward. The model is multimodal, meaning it accepts both images and text as inputs, although it only generates text as an output.
GPT-4 performs much better than GPT-3.5, which was previously the foundation of ChatGPT. The newer model was given a whole battery of professional and academic benchmark tests, and while it was “less capable than humans” in many scenarios, it exhibited “human-level performance” on several of them, according to OpenAI.
For instance, GPT-4 managed to score well enough to be within the top 10 percent of test takers in a simulated bar exam, while GPT-3.5’s score was at the bottom 10 percent. OpenAI also claims that GPT-4 is generally more trustworthy than GPT-3.5 — returning more factual answers that stay within the guardrails that prevent biased outputs and other issues.
Yet, like GPT-3.5 and similar systems, GPT-4 remains flawed. It still is prone to make up information. And it is still possible to get the model to spit out biased or inappropriate language.
And there is a lot we do not know about GPT-4. OpenAI has disclosed very little about how big the model is, and is keeping just how much data it has been trained on under wraps, claiming both competitive and safety reasons.
Notable ChatGPT Updates
Since its launch in November 2022, ChatGPT has received several significant updates adding new features or enhancing existing capabilities, including:
Memory (February 2024)
This update allows ChatGPT to remember details from previous conversations and tailor its future responses accordingly. This can include factual information — like dietary restrictions or relevant details about the user’s business — as well as stylistic preferences like brevity or a specific kind of outline. According to an OpenAI blog post, ChatGPT will build memories on its own over time, though users can also prompt the bot to remember specific details — or forget them.
ChatGPT Team (January 2024)
ChatGPT Team lets companies create shared workspaces with settings that apply for all users, as well as the ability to share proprietary data sets. A marketing team, for example, might coach the model on its brand voice guidelines and upload campaign analytics so members of the team can use ChatGPT to spot trends.
GPT Store (January 2024)
The GPT Store allows users to share their customized GPT models with others. According to OpenAI, builders based in the United States will be eligible for payments based on the usage of their custom GPTs.
Custom GPTs (November 2023)
This update allows users to create customized GPTs that follow specific instructions and knowledge provided by the builder. Custom GPTs can also be connected to real-world data through APIs.
DALL-E 3 (October 2023)
The newest version of OpenAI’s image generator, DALL-E, was made available to ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise users.
Image and Voice Recognition; Text to Speech (September 2023)
This update allows users to interact with ChatGPT via speech, and to upload images that the model can analyze and use to generate outputs. It also added voice-to-text capabilities, effectively making ChatGPT a full-fledged voice assistant.
Custom Instructions Beta (July 2023)
Custom instructions allow users to save directions that apply to all interactions, rather than adding them to every request.
GPT-4 General Availability (July 2023)
According to OpenAI, GPT-4 is capable of handling “much more nuanced instructions” than its predecessor, and can also accept image inputs. OpenAI also highlighted that GPT-4 scored “around the top 10 percent of test takers” in a simulated bar exam, whereas its predecessor landed in the bottom 10 percent.
ChatGPT Plus (February 2023)
This paid subscription version of ChatGPT provides faster response times, access during peak times and the ability to test out new features early.
Official Launch (November 2022)
ChatGPT, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 model, launched in November 2022.
The Future of ChatGPT
ChatGPT kicked off what some prognosticators are calling a generative AI “arms race,” in which tech companies compete to produce advanced AI technology and bring the best AI chatbots to market.
In the wake of ChatGPT’s success, Microsoft rolled out a new version of its search engine, Bing, accompanied by an AI chatbot (powered by GPT-4) in February 2023. Not to be outdone, Google unveiled its AI chatbot — Gemini — in March 2023.
Ultimately, OpenAI is working toward ultimately achieving artificial general intelligence, where a machine is capable of behaving and performing actions the way humans can. “We are very much here to build AGI,” co-founder and CEO Altman said in an interview with StrictlyVC.
For now, “this technology is amazing, but it’s still first generation,” Kagan, the tech industry analyst, said, likening ChatGPT to what the Ford Model T did for cars. “It was a really exciting innovation, but it was nothing compared to what we’re driving today.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Does ChatGPT have an app?
Yes — a ChatGPT app is available for Android, iPhone and iPad devices. It can be downloaded via Google Play for Android or the App Store for iOS devices.
How does ChatGPT work?
Similar to a phone’s auto-complete feature, ChatGPT uses a prediction model to guess the most likely next word based on the context it has been provided. The model has been trained through a combination of automated learning and human feedback to generate text that closely matches what you’d expect to see in text written by a human.
What does ChatGPT stand for?
The GPT in ChatGPT stands for “generative pre-trained transformer.”
What are the main ChatGPT competitors?
Major ChatGPT competitors include Anthropic’s Claude, Google’s Gemini, Meta’s Llama 2 and Jasper AI.