OpenAI adds plugin support to ChatGPT – an upgrade that vastly expands the chatbot’s capabilities and gives it access to live data from the web for the first time.
Until now, ChatGPT has been limited by the fact that it can only extract information from its training data, which ends in 2021. OpenAI says plugins allow the bot not only to surf the web, but also to interact with specific websites, potentially turning the system into a comprehensive interface for all sorts of services and sites. In an announcement postthe company says it’s almost as if other services are the “eyes and ears” of ChatGPT.
In one demo video (below), someone uses ChatGPT to find a recipe and then order the necessary ingredients from Instacart. ChatGPT automatically loads the ingredients list into the shopping service and redirects the user to the site to complete the order.
OpenAI says it is rolling out plugin access to “a small number of users”. Initially, there are 11 plugins for third-party sites, including Expedia, OpenTable, Kayak, Klarna Shopping, and Zapier. OpenAI also provides some plugins of its own, one for interpreting code and one called “Browsing”, which allows ChatGPT to pull information from the Internet.
As an example of what the browsing plugin can achieve, the company shows someone asking how the box office sales of this year’s Oscar winners compare to recently released movies, and the bot shows its work for which sources he looks before he answers. This is something that ChatGPT could not have achieved before.
This experimental feature is clearly similar to Microsoft’s Bing, which has custom technology that feeds GPT-4 information (the language model underlying ChatGPT) from the Internet. However, OpenAI’s plugin doesn’t just retrieve real-time information. It can also interface with APIs, allowing it to “perform actions on behalf of the user,” according to it company documentation. That could make it much more powerful – Bing can help you plan a vacation by telling you about flights and hotels, but ChatGPT can help book It.
There are some obvious safety and security issues when ChatGPT allows actions to be taken on behalf of a user rather than just giving them information. Experts have already expressed their concerns about this as a result of an experiment that OpenAI performed with GPT-4. For example, when controlled by a human tester, the bot could generate instructions to hire a TaskRabbit employee. complete a CAPTCHA it was unable to answer.
OpenAI says it has considered the threats posed by these plugins and has “implemented various safeguards”, including limiting the availability of the plugins to a very small number of people to begin with. The company’s blog post says it will “initially prioritize a small number of developers and ChatGPT Plus users” to get plugin access and offers a waitlist signup here.