What is ChatGPT and How Does it Work?

Unless you have been living under a rock you must be aware of the new AI bot in town: ChatGPT.

This tool, made by the AI powerhouse OpenAI, allows you to type in natural language prompts. It offers conversational responses that can be a bit awkward, but it remembers the conversation and uses previous questions and answers to inform its next response. It gets its answers from massive amounts of internet data.

ChatGPT is a big deal. It’s knowledgeable in areas with good training data, and while it’s not quite smart enough to replace all humans, its answers can sound authoritative. After its launch, over a million people gave ChatGPT a try.

It’s also a big moneymaker. Microsoft pledged to invest billions of dollars into OpenAI, and a modified version of the technology is already being rolled out to select users, powering Microsoft’s new Bing challenge to Google search.

But watch out, OpenAI warns. ChatGPT has some potential issues, both obvious and sneaky.

“Don’t rely on it for anything important right now,” says OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman on Twitter. “We still need to work on making it robust and truthful.” Here’s what you need to know about ChatGPT and why it’s a big deal.

So, what's ChatGPT?

It’s an AI chatbot system that OpenAI dropped in November to show off the capabilities of a powerful AI system. You can ask it all kinds of questions and often get useful answers.

For instance, you can ask it encyclopedia questions like, “What is Einstein’s Theory of Relativity?” You can say, “Write me a poem,” and then ask it to “Make it more humorous.” You can even have it write a computer program to show you all the different ways to arrange letters in a word.

Here’s the thing: ChatGPT doesn’t really “know” anything. It’s an AI that’s trained to recognize patterns in vast amounts of text from the internet and then further trained with human help to deliver better, more helpful dialogue. The answers it gives might sound plausible or even authoritative, but OpenAI warns that they could be entirely wrong.

This AI has become an extremely popular tool on the internet. According to UBS analyst Lloyd Walmsley, ChatGPT had reached 100 million monthly users in January, accomplishing in two months what it took TikTok about nine months and Instagram two and a half years to achieve. The New York Times, citing internal sources, reported that 30 million people use ChatGPT every day.

Can you use ChatGPT for free?

ChatGPT is free to use – just type in your question and you’ll get an answer. But, to get started, you’ll need an OpenAI account, which is easy enough to create by using your Google or Microsoft account.

Sure, the basic version of ChatGPT is completely free. But that doesn’t mean it’s free for OpenAI to keep running it. Apparently, it costs around $3 million a month to keep the system running, which breaks down to about $100,000 per day. And that’s not all. OpenAI has faced criticism recently for the controversial training methods it used to teach the AI not to produce offensive content.

OpenAI has even announced a $20 per month ChatGPT Plus service that’s faster and gets new features earlier. ChatGPT Plus promises faster response times, access to the system during peak usage hours, and first dibs on new features

What questions can I ask?

The ChatGPT website keeps it simple, showing you a space for results to show up and a box where you can type in what you’re curious about. While the smart folks at OpenAI suggest that you input statements instead of questions for the best results, both tend to yield thorough answers.

You can even ask for specific essay topics with paragraph counts or even for a whole Wikipedia page. We put ChatGPT to the test with a request for a four-paragraph essay on H.G Well’s The Time Machine, and it delivered the goods!

In general, if there’s enough info out there, the bot will give you the right details. However, if it doesn’t have enough information, it may fill in the gaps with incorrect data. OpenAI admits this is rare, but just a heads up. Plus, ChatGPT’s knowledge is limited to things that happened before 2021.

If you’re not satisfied with the first answer you get, you can ask away until you’re blue in the face or clear out your previous inquiries. Oh, and you can also switch up the website between dark or light mode, which is a nice touch.

Can ChatGPT be used for essay writing?

ChatGPT has been quite controversial, with many people wondering how AI will change writing in general. One of the most obvious examples is an essay writing for students. While ChatGPT may not write articles well, it’s surprisingly easy to use for essay writing. Schools have already started to ban the use of ChatGPT, but some people think it could be useful for teaching, although plagiarism will continue to be a problem. OpenAI has developed a new plagiarism detection tool, but it’s still imperfect.

What does ChatGPT have to do with Microsoft Bing?

Microsoft is adding ChatGPT to Bing and its Edge browser, but it’s not widely available just yet. There is a waiting list that you can join. The Prometheus model is an enhanced version of ChatGPT that can consider more recent information. There’s a waitlist for the Bing ChatGPT, which reportedly received over one million sign-ups in the first 48 hours. It’s currently rolling out to select users, and a full release is expected in the coming months.

What's the future of ChatGPT?

The tech world is currently fixated on ChatGPT, and for good reason. ChatGPT-4 is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2023 and promises to significantly improve accuracy and capability. The bigger development is how ChatGPT will be integrated into other applications. Microsoft has made a multibillion-dollar investment in ChatGPT and is already seeing benefits.

OpenAI’s features are now showing up in Teams Premium to automate tasks and provide transcripts, and ChatGPT is now available in Bing. We can only imagine how it will be integrated into other applications like PowerPoint and Word in the future. The integration of AI into the most common work and school applications is an important part of ChatGPT’s future.

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Dr. Saad Aslam is a certified family medicine physician with over 5 years of experience in primary care. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Aslam has a particular interest in the use of digital technology and marketing in medicine. He has worked with several non-profit organizations to bring medical infrastructures in undeveloped areas.

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