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What is ChatGPT? The AI text generator explained

If you’ve been scrolling through the internet lately, you’ve probably heard of ChatGPT. You may have even read text written by the chatbot without knowing it. 

We’ve put together this guide to explain what ChatGPT is, how it works and how you can try it out today. 

What is ChatGPT? 

ChatGPT is a chatbot created by the artificial intelligence research company OpenAI that was first released in November 2022. The name ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer. 

ChatGPT is designed to generate conversational text in response to a prompt. It follows a dialogue format, meaning it is capable of answering follow-up questions, admitting to mistakes, challenging incorrect premises and turning down inappropriate requests, among other things. 

The chatbot can be used to answer questions, create copy, draft essays, debug code and generate stories, among other things. To put that into context, it probably could have churned out this 500-word guide in a matter of seconds. 

As you can imagine, this has led to legitimate concerns regarding plagiarism in schools and universities, as well as the future of jobs in sectors like journalism and copywriting. 

The model isn’t perfect by any means at this point, but it does generate impressive results in a fraction of the time it would take a human and it’s only likely to get smarter as time goes on. This can make it tricky to detect whether an essay or piece of copy was written by a person or the AI model, especially for those unaware of the application. 

ChatGPT how it works
Image: OpenAI

How does ChatGPT work?

ChatGPT is based upon a finetuned version of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 deep learning language model. The chatbot is considered a sibling model to InstructGPT, a model trained to follow instructions by providing a detailed response to a prompt. 

The ChatGPT model was trained using a method called Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback, or RLHF. This means that human AI trainers provided conversations in which they played the parts of both the user and the AI assistant. The AI trainers based their “AI” responses upon actual model-written suggestions and the new dialogue was then mixed with OpenAI’s InstructGPT dataset. 

Finally, the company created a reward model by taking conversations that AI trainers had with the chatbot and having the AI trainers rank different responses from best to worst. 

OpenAI is the same company behind the popular AI art generator, Dall-E 2

Is ChatGPT free?

ChatGPT is free to use as part of OpenAI’s research preview. This is because the company is looking to gather user feedback to get an idea of the chatbot’s strengths and weaknesses. 

OpenAI has already shared a list of some of the model’s limitations on its website, which include sometimes generating plausible-sounding but nonsensical answers, requiring a question to be rephrased to generate an answer, overusing certain phrases, not asking clarifying questions for ambiguous queries and exhibiting biased behaviour. 

With that in mind, you shouldn’t expect ChatGPT’s responses to be flawless and you’ll probably want to proofread any text you do generate with the bot. 

You can head over to chat.openai.com to try it out now. 

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