The Gist

  • Plug us in. OpenAI introduced experimental plugins for ChatGPT, allowing it to browse the web and access current information via the Bing search API.
  • Elite crew. Access to the plugins is initially available to select developers and ChatGPT Plus users.
  • Marketing and CX wins? The introduction of plugins enhances ChatGPT's capabilities, offering potential opportunities for marketers and customer experience professionals.

ChatGPT has a new friend: the Internet.

OpenAI, the creators of the most popular chatbot of all time, rolled out this week a series of plugins for ChatGPT including "web browsing." It's an experimental model, hosted by OpenAI itself, and connects ChatGPT with the wonderful world of the Web via the Bing search API.

In other words, it will be able to connect directly to the Web and current-day information through query results, going beyond its trained language models that only takes in knowledge up to 2021.

Basically, it's like Googling (remember that?), ChatGPT-style, and the chatbot gives you results it thinks you want. Kinda what it does with Microsoft Bing AI already.

Who gets access? Plugin alpha access is available to users and developers from OpenAI's waitlist. "While we will initially prioritize a small number of developers and ChatGPT Plus users, we plan to roll out larger-scale access over time," OpenAI officials wrote.

OpenAI is gradually enabling existing plugins from its early collaborators for ChatGPT users, beginning with ChatGPT Plus subscribers. It's also rolling out the ability for developers to create their own plugins for ChatGPT. "In the coming months, as we learn from deployment and continue to improve our safety systems, we’ll iterate on this protocol, and we plan to enable developers using OpenAI models to integrate plugins into their own applications beyond ChatGPT," OpenAI officials wrote.

Marketing and Customer Experiences With ChatGPT Plugins?

What does this mean for marketers and customer experience professionals? It's unclear exactly what kind of access brands and those charged with digital customer experiences will have to all the plugins, including OpenAI's Web Browser plugin. But we do know this: ChatGPT now has some internet muscles, and guess who's connected to the Internet: all of us.

Look at the example OpenAI demonstrated this week with its web plugin opportunities. The big advancement here? Internet connection and connection to actual clickable sources (the poem presents itself on the OpenAI blog announcing the news):

Screenshot of ChatGPT's new ability to connect to the internet using plug-ins.

Not bad, right? We know marketers are salivating at the opportunity to connect their brand to these search results. How can we be CNN or ABC? Isn't this the long-standing goal of good quality, valuable content and customer experiences? Be found. Be searched. And provide answers — and hopefully convert prospects down the road.

In other words, "Give me an S. Give me an E. Give me an O. What's it spell? SEO — search engine optimization."

It's not like ChatGPT and OpenAI's language models didn't already have a web connection. Microsoft jumped on that with its multibillion-dollar investment and development of ChatGPT-powered Bing search and Edge browser.

So, optimize that content. ChatGPT will be watching via its Web Browser plugin.

Related Article: Humans Put ChatGPT Customer Experience Outcomes to the Test

Brands' Entry Into ChatGPT Third-Party Plugin World

But how — and when — can developers at brands take advantage of this week's plugin announcement and get into the ChatGPT Plugin Party? Like actually see use cases where customers will be exposed to some third-party plugins in addition to OpenAI's Web Browser plugins? Third-party plugins are experimental models where ChatGPT knows when and how to use plugins.

Here's what OpenAI says:

"We’re starting with a small set of users and are planning to gradually roll out larger-scale access as we learn more (for plugin developers, ChatGPT users, and after an alpha period, API users who would like to integrate plugins into their products). We’re excited to build a community shaping the future of the human–AI interaction paradigm."

According to OpenAI, plugin developers invited off the waitlist can use the company's documentation to build a plugin for ChatGPT, "which then lists the enabled plugins in the prompt shown to the language model as well as documentation to instruct the model how to use each. The first third-party plugins have been created by Expedia, FiscalNote, Instacart, Kayak, Klarna, Milo, OpenTable, Shopify, Slack, Speak, Wolfram and Zapier. 

Related Article: ChatGPT Is Already Replacing Humans in the Workplace

Learning Opportunities

OpenAI: Language Models Are Limited

What's fascinating about this extraordinary technology that debuted in November of last year? We're still trying to make it better. We still know it's limited and oftentimes inaccurate.

OpenAI, in fact, talked this week about what most users know: language models are still limited. The only information they can learn, as OpenAI officials say, is from their training data. And before this week's Web Browser plugin, ChatGPT pretty much thought the world ended in 2021.

"This information can be out-of-date and is one-size fits all across applications," they wrote. "Furthermore, the only thing language models can do out-of-the-box is emit text. This text can contain useful instructions, but to actually follow these instructions you need another process."

Enter the plugins that give ChatGPT and its language model muscles. When language models read information from the internet, it expands the amount of content they can discuss, "going beyond the training corpus to fresh information from the present day," according to OpenAI officials.

"Though not a perfect analogy, plugins can be 'eyes and ears' for language models, giving them access to information that is too recent, too personal, or too specific to be included in the training data," they added. "In response to a user’s explicit request, plugins can also enable language models to perform safe, constrained actions on their behalf, increasing the usefulness of the system overall. We expect that open standards will emerge to unify the ways in which applications expose an AI-facing interface. We are working on an early attempt at what such a standard might look like, and we’re looking for feedback from developers interested in building with us."

More ChatGPT Plugins on the Way

What else is on the horizon? Here are some other plugins from OpenAI in addition to its Web Browser and other third-party plugin opportunities:

Code Interpreter: ChatGPT Uses Python, Handles Uploads and Downloads

This is done in a sandboxed, firewalled execution environment, along with some ephemeral disk space, according to OpenAI officials. An interpreter plugin analyzes the code in a persistent session for a chat conversation (with an upper-bound timeout) and subsequent calls can build on top of each other. It supports uploading files to the current conversation workspace and downloading the results.

OpenAI officials said some early use cases include:

  • Solving mathematical problems, both quantitative and qualitative
  • Doing data analysis and visualization
  • Converting files between formats

Here's what it looks like:

OpenAI's code interpreter plugin performing logic calculations.

Retrieval: Access Personal or Organizational Information Sources With Permission

The open-source retrieval plugin enables ChatGPT users to obtain the most relevant document snippets from their data sources, such as files, notes, emails or public documentation. They can ask questions or express needs in natural language.

"As an open-source and self-hosted solution, developers can deploy their own version of the plugin and register it with ChatGPT," OpenAI officials said. "The plugin leverages OpenAI embeddings and allows developers to choose a vector database (Milvus, Pinecone, Qdrant, Redis, Weaviate or Zilliz) for indexing and searching documents. Information sources can be synchronized with the database using webhooks."

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