In a groundbreaking development, OpenAI, with backing from Microsoft, has announced that its AI-powered chatbot, ChatGPT, is now equipped to browse the internet for current information. This significant upgrade comes after the chatbot’s prior limitation of relying solely on data up to September 2021.
For premium users, this means a door has opened to a wealth of real-time information. They can now pose questions on current affairs and access the latest news. OpenAI plans to make this feature available to all users in the near future.
Earlier in the week, OpenAI unveiled another major innovation: ChatGPT’s ability to engage in voice conversations with users. These developments have the potential to reshape how people interact with AI, transforming it into a source of real-time knowledge.
Previously, the inability of ChatGPT to provide up-to-the-minute information had deterred some potential users. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of business psychology at University College London, remarked, “If this functionality or capability weren’t there, you would need to go to Google or to Twitter or to your preferred news outlet. Now, you can treat this as a source of the latest news, gossip, and current events.”
However, this expanded functionality also raises concerns. Chamorro-Premuzic noted that without proper sourcing, information from ChatGPT could be misleading, as users might assume the information is reliable when it might not be.
OpenAI has already come under the scrutiny of U.S. regulators due to the risk of ChatGPT generating false information. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had previously sent a letter to the Microsoft-backed company seeking information on how they address potential risks to people’s reputations. In response, OpenAI’s chief executive pledged to cooperate with the FTC.
The decision to enable ChatGPT to access the internet for real-time data had its reasons. While the computing cost was a factor, the primary concern was maintaining a safety net. ChatGPT’s inability to access current events prevented it from regurgitating harmful or illegal material or spreading misinformation about politics or healthcare decisions.
Asked why it took this long to grant ChatGPT the ability to access up-to-date information, the chatbot itself offered three explanations. It cited the time-consuming and resource-intensive nature of developing language models, the potential for inaccuracies with real-time data, and privacy and ethical concerns, particularly regarding copyrighted content without permission.
The recent enhancements to ChatGPT spotlight the profound dilemma faced by the AI sector. Striking a balance between usefulness and safety remains challenging, as expanding capabilities may expose the technology to misuse and inaccuracies. OpenAI’s journey towards providing real-time information is undoubtedly a significant step forward, but it also underscores the ongoing challenges of responsible AI development.