OpenAI’s ChatGPT gets access to the web for the first time

OpenAI is expanding ChatGPT’s capabilities significantly by adding support for plug-ins, giving it live access to the web for the first time.

The company opened a plug-in waitlist and started giving access to “a small set of users” on Thursday, 23 March 2023.

Before now, ChatGPT only had access to its training data, which only includes information up to 2021. OpenAI says plug-ins will allow it to browse the web and interact with specific websites.

It provided a list of 11 plug-ins initially available to users for external sites, including:

  • Expedia
  • FiscalNote
  • Instacart
  • OpenTable
  • Shopify
  • Slack
  • Zapier

OpenAI is also adding some plug-ins of its own — one for interpreting code and one called “Browsing”, which lets ChatGPT get information from the Internet.

The company provided an example of the browsing plug-in in action, where a user asks how the box office sales of this year’s Oscar winners compare to recently released movies.

The language model provides a breakdown of what it is doing, including searching, clicking specific links, and reading the content before answering.

While other language models, like Microsoft’s GPT-powered Bing Search, can browse the web, ChatGPT one-ups them with its ability to tie into APIs, enabling it to “perform actions on behalf of the user”.

OpenAI president and co-founder Greg Brockman posted a demonstration of how someone can use ChatGPT to find recipes and order the necessary ingredients on InstaCart.

“We’ve added initial support for ChatGPT plug-ins — a protocol for developers to build tools for ChatGPT, with safety as a core design principle,” Brokman says.

“Deploying iteratively (starting with a small number of users & developers) to learn from contact with reality.”

Now read: Microsoft launches first public preview of collaborative work app Loop

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OpenAI’s ChatGPT gets access to the web for the first time