What Is ChatGPT? | Everything You Need to Know
ChatGPT is a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence (AI). It works like any chatbot: users type in text-based prompts, and it responds to them with its own text. What makes it unique is how fluent, extensive, and human-sounding its answers are, as well as the wide variety of topics it can discuss.
ChatGPT was developed by a company called OpenAI. It was released in November 2022. It’s currently free to use, although it was released as a “research preview”, so it may not be free forever.
It can be used for a wide variety of tasks, including writing, brainstorming, researching, coding, and feedbacking existing text. ChatGPT’s ability to quickly generate large amounts of convincing text has significant implications in a variety of areas, such as academia, business, politics, and the internet.
How does ChatGPT work?
ChatGPT was trained on a very large dataset consisting of hundreds of billions of words from a wide variety of sources (such as books and webpages). Based on its training, it produces text by predicting what words should come next in any given context—something like a hyper-advanced version of predictive text.
There are a few key terms that come up when discussing ChatGPT, which can help you to understand how it works:
- Natural language processing (NLP) is the field dedicated to studying the interaction of computers with human language.
- Neural networks are computing systems designed to imitate brain structures in an attempt to generate human-like intelligence.
- Large language models (LLMs) are a type of neural network trained on very large quantities of text so that they can produce human language.
- Generative pre-trained transformers (GPTs) are a specific type of LLM, currently the most popular and advanced approach. GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 are the specific models used in ChatGPT.
- Reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF) is the training method used to fine-tune the GPT models for use in ChatGPT. It involves “rewarding” the model for producing appropriate responses (i.e., responses that are fluent, relevant, factually correct, and don’t contain offensive language).
Essentially, ChatGPT’s answers are based on predicting the most natural responses to your prompts, based on the large amount of text the model was trained on, with a reward system on top of this to encourage helpful answers and discourage inappropriate ones.
You can try ChatGPT yourself by following this link. You’ll first have to sign up for an account, but it’s free to do so (though it’s possible it won’t be free forever). The prompts you enter can be used to train and refine future GPT models, so be cautious about entering sensitive information in your chats.
A premium version of ChatGPT is also available for a monthly fee. This version runs on GPT-4 instead of GPT-3.5, so it’s likely to perform better and make fewer mistakes.
Due to its advanced language capabilities, ChatGPT has a wide range of potential use cases, from exploring and researching new topics to having it help you with coding. Some examples are shown in the tabs below. Try it yourself to see what it can do!
Who made ChatGPT?
ChatGPT was developed and released by OpenAI, a major company in the world of AI research and development. The company was founded in 2015 by Ilya Sutskever, Greg Brockman, Sam Altman, and Elon Musk (who is no longer involved). The current CEO is Sam Altman.
OpenAI began as a nonprofit company but transitioned to for-profit in 2019. The company has been praised for its commitment to developing AI in a safe and open way, but it has also been criticised for failing to live up to that commitment by refusing to reveal the technical details of its models.
The same company is responsible for other AI products, most notably DALL-E (an AI image generator) and its follow-up, DALL-E 2, both of which run on the same GPT technology as ChatGPT.
The implications of ChatGPT
ChatGPT has been a huge success for OpenAI and is claimed to be the fastest-growing app in history, having reached 100 million monthly active users in just two months. It’s widely regarded as a big step forward in the development of AI technology and seen as having major implications for society.
Many commentators have highlighted the positive potential in ChatGPT, pointing out its ability to:
- Improve productivity in many professions by automating routine writing tasks (e.g., writing emails)
- Allow individuals or smaller teams to carry out more ambitious projects by speeding up processes like research and content generation
- Serve as an interactive learning, research, and writing assistant in academic contexts
- Facilitate creativity by making tasks like coding and writing more accessible to those who struggle to manage them alone
Others have criticised the technology for various reasons, arguing that it:
- May spread misinformation either inadvertently (due to its difficulty admitting when it doesn’t know something) or deliberately (when asked by the user to generate fake news)
- Enables academic dishonesty if students present AI-generated text as their own work (AI detectors may be used to determine when students have used these tools)
- Could be disruptive to many professions, resulting in job losses
- Reproduces biases (such as sexism) that are present in its training data
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Frequently asked questions about ChatGPT
- How does ChatGPT work?
ChatGPT is a chatbot based on a large language model (LLM). These models are trained on huge datasets consisting of hundreds of billions of words of text, based on which the model learns to effectively predict natural responses to the prompts you enter.
ChatGPT was also refined through a process called reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF), which involves “rewarding” the model for providing useful answers and discouraging inappropriate answers – encouraging it to make fewer mistakes.
Essentially, ChatGPT’s answers are based on predicting the most likely responses to your inputs based on its training data, with a reward system on top of this to incentivise it to give you the most helpful answers possible. It’s a bit like an incredibly advanced version of predictive text. This is also one of ChatGPT’s limitations: because its answers are based on probabilities, they’re not always trustworthy.
- Who created ChatGPT?
ChatGPT was created by OpenAI, an AI research company. It started as a nonprofit company in 2015 but became for-profit in 2019. Its CEO is Sam Altman, who also co-founded the company. OpenAI released ChatGPT as a free “research preview” in November 2022. Currently, it’s still available for free, although a more advanced premium version is available if you pay for it.
OpenAI is also known for developing DALL-E, an AI image generator that runs on similar technology to ChatGPT.
- Who owns ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is owned by OpenAI, the company that developed and released it. OpenAI is a company dedicated to AI research. It started as a nonprofit company in 2015 but transitioned to for-profit in 2019. Its current CEO is Sam Altman, who also co-founded the company.
Be cautious about how you use ChatGPT content in an academic context. University policies on AI writing are still developing, so even if you “own” the content, you’re often not allowed to submit it as your own work according to your university or to publish it in a journal.
- What does “ChatGPT” stand for?
GPT stands for “generative pre-trained transformer”, which is a type of large language model: a neural network trained on a very large amount of text to produce convincing, human-like language outputs. The Chat part of the name just means “chat”: ChatGPT is a chatbot that you interact with by typing in text.
The technology behind ChatGPT is GPT-3.5 (in the free version) or GPT-4 (in the premium version). These are the names for the specific versions of the GPT model. GPT-4 is currently the most advanced model that OpenAI has created. It’s also the model used in Bing’s chatbot feature.
- How do I access ChatGPT?
You can access ChatGPT by signing up for a free account:
- Follow this link to the ChatGPT website.
- Click on “Sign up” and fill in the necessary details (or use your Google account). It’s free to sign up and use the tool.
- Type a prompt into the chat box to get started!
A ChatGPT app is also available for iOS, and an Android app is planned for the future. The app works similarly to the website, and you log in with the same account for both.
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