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ChatGPT adds plugins, will search the web for you

ChatGPT’s paid subscribers gain access this week to plugins allowing access to websites and Bing internet search, according to Microsoft-backed OpenAI, the creator of the generative AI application.

The plugin system was first detailed in March, and allows the groundbreaking AI to use more than 70 third-party services, including Instacart, Expedia, Klarna, OpenTable and more. The services will be available in beta, via a new beta panel on ChatGPT Plus, according to an OpenAI blog post.

ChatGPT’s integration of these services relies on a its native intelligence to know when certain requests can be fulfilled via a third-party service.

“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,” according to an OpenAI blog post in March. “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.”

Hence, ChatGPT can be used to search for restaurant reservations, travel bookings, and so on via those plugins.

OpenAI bolsters ChatGPT security

OpenAI, said that it has done significant red-team exercises, and worked to eliminate potentially abusive scenarios, like using the plugins to perform prompt injections, misuse information sent to the plugin or even send spam emails.

One plugin, developed in-house by OpenAI, is “Browsing.” Whereas ChatGPT previously could only answer questions based on its training data — which did include significant swathes of the Internet, but couldn’t account for live or very recent web content — the browsing plugin can use Microsoft’s Bing API to search the web for answers to some questions.

According to Gartner analyst Arun Chandrasekharan, this fixes a notable Achilles’ Heel of ChatGPT.

“ChatGPT is a fairly static application — where the underlying model has a training cut-off date, beyond which it may not have accurate information,” he said. “This expands the amount of content they can discuss, going beyond the training corpus to fresh information from the present day.”

OpenAI said that the web browsing feature “inherits substantial work from Microsoft” on identifying reliable sources and accurate information, and operates in “safe mode” to avoid surfacing what OpenAI called “problematic” content. It’s also designed to respect robots.txt files, meaning that it will not crawl websites that ask it not to do so, and isn’t meant to provide any kind of automated crawling of the web.

Plugins, including browsing, will roll out to users of ChatGPT’s paid tier, which was dubbed ChatGPT Plus on its release in February. It costs $20 per month, which buys a user uninterrupted access to ChatGPT (other users may not be able to access the service at peak times), priority access for faster response, and early access to new features like plugins. ChatGPT Plus users can access the new features in the “beta features” tab in the settings menu.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

This story originally appeared on Computerworld

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