Following the release the new GPT-4 engine and Whisper API in March, OpenAI announced Thursday that it has begun introducing plugins for ChatGPT. These will enable the chatbot to interact with 3rd-party APIs, tailoring its responses to specific circumstances as defined by the developers while expanding the bot’s range of capable actions.
Say you want to develop a chatbot that users can talk sports with. Before the latest GPT-4 upgrade, the chatbot would only be able to discuss games and scores that happened in the past, specifically in 2021 which is when GPT-3’s training data was assembled. It wouldn’t pull real-time data or even be aware that the year 2022 existed. With a chatGPT plugin, you’ll be able to tack ChatGPT functionality onto your existing code stack where it will be able to do anything from retrieve real-time information calls (sports scores, stock prices, breaking news) to pulling specific knowledge-base information like your company’s internal documents or from your personal cloud. It will even be able to take action on behalf of the user like booking a flight or ordering take-out — think, an installable Google Assistant made by the OpenAI folks.
“The AI model acts as an intelligent API caller. Given an API spec and a natural-language description of when to use the API, the model proactively calls the API to perform actions,” the OpenAI team wrote. “For instance, if a user asks, ‘Where should I stay in Paris for a couple nights?’, the model may choose to call a hotel reservation plugin API, receive the API response, and generate a user-facing answer combining the API data and its natural language capabilities.”
The company also notes that using plug-ins to bridge the knowledge gap between what the model was trained on and what has happened since should help reduce the AI’s tendency to hallucinate facts when answering complex questions. “These references not only enhance the model’s utility but also enable users to assess the trustworthiness of the model’s output and double-check its accuracy, potentially mitigating risks related to over-reliance,” the team wrote.
The added capabilities and information afforded the model through its plug-in also greatly increase the chances of the model returning problematic responses. To avoid the $100 billion hit that Google took over Bard, OpenAI has reportedly stress-tested these plug-ins extensively. “We’ve performed red-teaming exercises, both internally and with external collaborators, that have revealed a number of possible concerning scenarios,” the team wrote. They plan to use those findings to, “inform safety-by-design mitigations” to improve transparency and hobble the plug-in against partaking risky behaviors.
The plug-in itself is still in early alpha with limited availability. OpenAI granted early access to a handful of partner companies including Expedia, Instacart, KAYAK, OpenTable, Shopify, Slack, Wolfram, and Zapier for use in their existing apps. You’ll need to add your name to the waitlist to try it for yourself.
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