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How to get started using ChatGPT

The new AI language processing tool has been trending since its launch late last year, but how do you use it and what for?
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer on
Reviewed by Alyson Windsor
A robot texting on a smartphone in space

Image created using OpenAI's Dall-E, another project from the company behind ChatGPT.

Dall-E

ChatGPT, OpenAI's most recent (and most famous) endeavor has been on the minds of many of us in recent weeks, including that of Google, Microsoft, and Meta. Whether people use it to ask funny questions, see how well it can create content, or find and correct a bug in code, one thing is clear: Its genius isn't in how innovative the idea of it is, but in how well-developed and natural it feels.

Also: The best AI writers: ChatGPT and other interesting alternatives to try

The AI chatbot can hold conversational text interactions with users by employing artificial intelligence. It can generate responses to questions (a feature that could eventually challenge search engines), generate text for prose, write code, make calculations, translate information, and more.

How to use ChatGPT

ChatGPT on laptop
Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Even if OpenAI is constantly working to improve ChatGPT, keep in mind that it can provide false information, as AI is not without its flaws, and it's no replacement for human interaction or verified sources of information.

1. Create an OpenAI account

Go to chat.OpenAi.com and register for an account with an email. You need to create an account to log in and interact with ChatGPT. 

OpenAI account

Creating an account on OpenAI will give you access to ChatGPT.

Maria Diaz | ZDNET

2. Accept ChatGPT terms

Once you've logged into your OpenAI account, read through the terms and disclosure from ChatGPT and click on Next.

ChatGPT screenshot
Maria Diaz | ZDNET

3. Start writing

That's it. 

Now that you know how to use ChatGPT, it's time to get started with it and ask the language model any burning questions you may have and see what kind of answers you can get.

Start writing to use ChatGPT.

Start writing to use ChatGPT.

Maria Diaz | ZDNET

More ChatGPT prompt examples

  • What is quantum physics?
  • Write a poem about a headache in the style of Walt Whitman.
  • Write a country song about a dog named Speckles who loves to run.
  • Summarize Pride and Prejudice book for me.
  • Write a sick note for my child missing school.

Also: ChatGPT is scary good at my job, but it can't replace me (yet)

FAQ

What can I use ChatGPT for? 

Your imagination is the limit. Have fun with it. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Write a song about [insert topic here] -- Try adding multiple details. 
  • Write a poem about [insert topic here] -- Again, add as many details as can think of.  
  • Ask it philosophical questions. 
  • Ask it to summarize ideas or concepts.

Also: How to use DALL•E 2 to create AI-generated art

How do I access ChatGPT?

You can access ChatGPT by going to chat.OpenAI.com and logging in. If you're on OpenAI's website, you can log in to your account, then scroll down until you see ChatGTP on the bottom left corner of the page, and click on it to start chatting.

Is ChatGPT free?

Yes, ChatGPT is free to use -- for now. Since the natural language processing model is still in its "learning" phase, people can use ChatGPT for free. All you need is a free OpenAI account. However, the company does plan to institute a paid plan in the future, but there's no word on when that would be just yet.

There's also the new option of using ChatGPT Pro to have unlimited access without blackout windows, faster responses, and at least twice the regular daily use limit, which is said to cost $42.

How to register for ChatGPT?

In order to register for ChatGPT, all you need to do is sign up for a free OpenAI account using your email address. 

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a large language model that uses artificial intelligence to hold text conversations with users that can feel natural, as if you were asking someone questions. The human-like responses are useful when translating from one language to another, looking for instructions on how to do something, and generation of written content, able to write anything from songs to cover letters.

Also: AI detectors vs ChatGPT: Can online tools tell human content from chatbot?   

The versatility of this and other language models have the capacity of replacing a Google search in the future, making it a substantial innovation to continue develop through training data.

How does ChatGPT work?

ChatGPT uses reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF) to intelligently process its environment using human demonstrations and adapt to different situations with learned desired behaviors. It's been trained on a substantial amount of data, and continues learning through the human knowledge users provide, making it able to give educated responses on a vast variety of topics. 

Does ChatGPT give wrong answers?

ChatGPT can give inaccurate and incorrect information, so it's important to double check the information it gives you. It's always learning from the text data it is provided, which can make it prone to misinformation. OpenAI recommends users provide feedback on what ChatGPT tells them using the thumbs up/down buttons, in order to better improve the model. 

Also: People are already trying to get ChatGPT to write malware

The AI chatbot is also not connected to the internet and unable to determine the current date, so asking ChatGPT how many days until Easter won't get you an exact number of days. 

Why is ChatGPT saying my access is denied?

Access to ChatGPT can be denied for various reasons -- mine was denied while using a VPN, for example. If you're getting a message when logging into the language model saying your access is denied, it may be one of these issues:

  • Violation of the API's terms of service
  • User trying to access an unavailable version of GPT
  • The API key may be invalid
  • User has exceeded usage limits
  • Violation to the OpenAI API terms of service
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