Look out, Bing. ChatGPT is getting access to the internet, too

Soon, ChatGPT plugins will make accessing the latest information on ChatGPT possible. Here's why this matters.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
ChatGPT Plugins screenshots

ChatGPT has led the AI chatbot space since its launch, but its inability to connect to the internet has remained its Achilles' heel. Currently, the chatbot can only access information prior to 2021, but that's about to change. 

Competitors, such as Microsoft and Google, have given their chatbots access to the web. On Thursday, OpenAI announced it is ready to do the same with ChatGPT. 

Also: ChatGPT vs. Bing Chat: Which AI chatbot should you use? 

OpenAI unveiled plugins which will allow ChatGPT to connect to third party applications, including access to real time information from the web. 

The plugins will help ChatGPT access information such as sports scores, stock prices and the latest news, just like you would find on a typical search engine, according to OpenAI. 

Also: I asked ChatGPT to write a WordPress plugin I needed. It did it in less than 5 minutes 

In addition, plugins will help retrieve knowledge-based information such as personal notes or company documents, and help perform actions for uses such as ordering food and booking a flight, per the post. 

Some of the first companies to create plugins for ChatGPT include Expedia, Instacart, Kayak, Klarna Shopping, Fiscal Note and more. With these plugins, users will be able to take advantage of each company's individual assistance within ChatGPT. 

Also: The best travel agent is an AI algorithm 

For example, with the Expedia plugin, users will be able to use ChatGPT to plan their trips, with access to the latest information on hotels, flights and more. 

OpenAI shares that it chose to go the plugin route to connect ChatGPT to the internet since it was the most secure option to avoid hallucinations and curtail risks involved with connecting a language model to an external tool like the internet. 

Currently, plugins are being tested in a limited alpha, but will roll out on a gradual basis, with priority on ChatGPT Plus users and a small number of developers. If you are interested in testing the plugins, you can join OpenAI's waitlist.

Also: The best AI chatbots of 2023: ChatGPT and alternatives 

OpenAI also shared that it is working on some plugins of its own including a browsing, retrieval and code interpreter plugin. 

With the browsing plugin, users would be able to ask ChatGPT questions about current events, and after conducting its own web-research, the chatbot would be able to provide an answer, as seen below. 

ChatGPT Browsing Plug-In
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

The code interpreter plugin for ChatGPT will provide the chatbot with a Python interpreter in a sandboxed, firewall execution environment, according to OpenAI. The retrieval plugin allows ChatGPT to access personal or organizational information sources when prompted with permission. 

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