ChatGPT. You’ve no doubt heard about it, with headlines declaring everything from “It’s going to make our lives easier,” to “It’s going to take over the world!” Regardless of whatever its promised outcome, it is a hot topic that is not likely to go away any time soon.

Follow along with GlobalSpec as it investigates what ChatGPT is and the benefits and drawbacks of its use.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is, according to its developers, a natural language processing tool that is driven by artificial intelligence (AI). Created by OpenAI, an AI research firm with the intention of creating friendly AI, ChatGPT is a so-called chatbot that enables human users to have realistic, human-like conversations.

Designed in the same vein as DALL-E-2, which is an AI art generator and Whisper, which is an automatic speech recognition system, ChatGPT is a free app that is capable of answering questions, composing essays and emails, writing code, translating text, describing works of art, having philosophical discussions, making grocery and other types of lists, and much more.

The app has become so popular, in fact, that experts suggest it is the fastest growing app of all time, with an estimated 100 million users at the beginning of 2023 — a mere two months after its November 2022 debut.

How was it created?

ChatGPT runs on the OpenAI-created generative pretrained transformer, which is essentially a language model architecture. OpenAI reportedly modified the language model via supervised learning — learning that requires a labeled dataset for training — and reinforcement learning — learning that does not require data but instead learns by interacting with the environment.

According to OpenAI, the chatbot was trained on endless amounts of data culled from the internet, books, news articles and much more.

Often confused with search engines like Google that index webpages on the internet to locate information, ChatGPT instead uses the information it was fed from the training data to formulate responses to user requests.

Benefits of ChatGPT

The benefits of ChatGPT are numerous. In addition to crafting text and assisting with other tasks, Chat GPT is fast and efficient for real-time applications, offering mostly coherent responses while being mostly aware of context.

Arguably, the benefits to businesses using ChatGPT are greater by automating repetitive tasks, such as data entry, improving customer engagement and accurately searching queries, quickly. Further, ChatGPT can be used to offer 24/7 customer support for businesses as well as answer common questions about product information, product availability, delivery and returns. As such, ChatGPT can potentially reduce the workload of human workers.

Likewise, ChatGPT can collect and analyze customer data and feedback, thereby improving products, services and marketing strategies.

Challenges of ChatGPT

Despite its many benefits, ChatGPT has some reported drawbacks. Experts suggest that the chatbot lacks full understanding of the words it generates, cannot produce metaphors, irony or sarcasm in its writing, sometimes returns verbose or nonsensical errors and even misinformation. However, those responses might look like accurate answers because of how they are convincingly constructed. Further, it is not always clear how the chatbot sources its responses and what resources it pulls that information from, and thus cannot verify the accuracy of that information.

According to the researchers, errors communicated via ChatGPT cannot always be accurately identified. Furthermore, ChatGPT is vulnerable to privacy concerns thanks in part to the vast database of sensitive data it is trained on.

Another limitation of ChatGPT is that the data used to train it is limited to 2021 — the final year of its training. As such, ChatGPT has zero awareness of events and news occurring after that date.

Perhaps its greatest limitation is that ChatGPT can be trained on biased data. In other words, text and resources lacking diversity have likely been used to train the chatbot.

More ChatGPT concerns

While ChatGPT touts its ability to produce content in mere seconds, there is concern that the capability will hasten the spread of misinformation. The chatbot could also mean the possible end of original written works produced by human writers despite the misinformation concerns.

ChaptGPT could even encourage cheating by students using the chatbot to write full essays. Further complicating this issue is that there is not an accompanying ChatGPT text detector to identify ChatGPT-generated papers and essays. Likewise, the chatbot could potentially be used to pass exams, having recently passed an MBA exam, according to recent reports.

Alarmingly, because ChatGPT can produce code, experts are concerned that the technology could also be used to produce malicious software, or malware, which is a file or code designed to infect, explore, steal or produce any behavior an attacker desires.

For now, ChatGPT is free for users, but a paid version is also available featuring an image generating component and other upgrades from the free version.

Check back with GlobalSpec’s series on ChatGPT with our next feature that will discuss the ways in which ChatGPT is currently being used.

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