Dusseldorf The record of chat programs based on artificial intelligence (AI) has so far been meager. Microsoft took the chatbot Tay offline in 2016, just 24 hours after its release. Galactica from the Facebook group Meta lasted three days last November. The language models quickly got out of hand with racist or meaningless statements.
But with ChatGPT from the US start-up Open AI, things are different. It has been accessible since November 30th and surprises with texts and dialogues that could be human.
There are still problems here, such as wrong or incorrect information or template-like answers. But the progress is clearly visible. Microsoft is now expanding its cooperation with Open AI and, according to media reports, will invest around ten billion dollars in the coming years. What makes ChatGPT so much better? Here are the most important questions and answers.
Open AI started as a foundation in San Francisco in 2015. Well-known tech entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman and Sam Altman gave a total of one billion dollars to achieve one goal: to develop artificial intelligence that “benefits all of humanity”, as the statute says.
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Musk left in 2018 because the carmaker Tesla he runs developed its own AI. A year later there was a turning point: The foundation ran out of money because computing capacity and the corresponding specialists are expensive. Nor was it easy to bring experts to the foundation – after all, Google or Meta offer high salaries and stock options.
Therefore, a for-profit subsidiary was formed, led by founder Altman. All employees of the foundation received shares, Microsoft invested one billion dollars, and venture capitalists such as Khosla Venture or the foundation of LinkedIn founder Hoffman came on board.
Today, Open AI is one of the most valuable startups in the US, valued at $29 billion. The participations are regulated in a complicated way in order to do justice to the structure of the foundation. According to various US tech media, Microsoft holds 49 percent of the company, and the other investors together also hold 49 percent. The Foundation owns the remaining two percent.
What is ChatGPT?
The name stands for “Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer”, which Open AI released at the end of November. The chatbot is based on a machine learning model that understands human input and responds in a natural-sounding way. The chatbot can write poems, summarize texts or even program.
ChatGPT uses language models – currently the GPT 3.5 – that have been trained on huge amounts of data, so-called Large Language Models (LLM). 175 billion parameters and 800 gigabytes of storage capacity were used for this.
The model works on the principle of reinforcement learning. The program independently develops a strategy in several stages, which is controlled with “rewards”. This can be positive or negative feedback, monitored and given by humans in the early stages. At the highest level, the program optimizes itself with the so-called “Proximal Policy Optimization” (PPO).
However, the model can only be as good as the data. For example, if there are racist prejudices, the program will also reproduce them. To avoid this, the developers of Open AI used a “moderation filter” that hasn’t done badly so far.
What can you do with ChatGPT?
Everyone can use ChatGPT free of charge after registration. Due to the great interest, however, the website often goes to its knees. Anyone who makes it into the program can create texts that read eloquently and in a structured manner and could be by a journalist or writer. It can understand sentences of up to 1500 words.
The chatbot is so good that it would pass the MBA exam at the US elite university Wharton – with the grade “two minus”, as Professor Christian Terwiesch recently wrote in a study. The explanations were “excellent”.
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ChatGPT can also translate and speaks several languages. However, German has problems with punctuation and grammar, and the sentences are sometimes long and convoluted.
The potential is still enormous. ChatGPT could potentially change everyday work in many industries. Microsoft wants to integrate the AI tool into its Bing search engine, which would then function in a completely new way. Users can then make search queries as if they were a human and receive whole answers instead of a list of links.
What are the disadvantages of ChatGPT?
The developers attach great importance to not giving any wrong, misleading or harmful answers. However, there are numerous examples where users have managed to do just that. In the “Historical Figures” app, which uses ChatGPT, users can converse with Jesus or the Beatles – but recently also with Adolf Hitler and other dictators.
However, compared to other chatbots, ChatGPT is much better at avoiding stereotypes. What is always missing are sources, and the program does not provide any probabilities for its statements.
Basically, caution is always advisable: ChatGPT often gives wrong answers with great eloquence and authority. It falls for trick questions, obscure subjects are particularly a problem. Current questions are also taboo because the program was only trained with data up to the end of 2021. The program answers questions like the 2022 World Cup, but they are speculation.
What other AI software is still available?
There’s a whole range of offerings, each with strengths and weaknesses. For example, Open AI offers Dall-E, which creates images from text descriptions on command. The program is based on ChatGPT and has recently stopped being free – it is said to cost around 40 euros per month.
An alternative is Bloom, which is the only program with 176 billion parameters trained on more data than ChatGPT. It masters 46 languages and 13 programming languages. The open-source software is freely available and particularly valuable in rare languages like Swahili. It can summarize or translate text and was trained on data up to July 2022. However, you have to pay for the cloud service at $40 an hour.
Given the hype surrounding ChatGPT, rumors are mounting that Google will soon follow suit. The Internet group has been working on the so-called “Language Model for Dialogue Applications” (Lamda) for some time. This is already used in the “AI Test Kitchen” app, which only runs on Android smartphones and is only available to a small extent.
More: Microsoft is investing “multi-billions” in ChatGPT makers Open AI