ChatGPT can now browse the internet again

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OpenAI has announced that its chatbot ChatGPT can once again collect information from the internet. Users of the paid Plus and Enterprise services can already use this feature.

The new capability strengthens ChatGPT’s competitive position against similar chatbots from Microsoft (Bing Chat) and Google (Bard). A salient detail is that Bing Chat runs on the same GPT-4 model as ChatGPT. Microsoft and OpenAI signed a billion-dollar deal after which the former company has implemented AI functions in numerous products, including Windows 11 and Microsoft 365 applications.

Originally, ChatGPT could access the internet, but OpenAI soon chose to disable this functionality. Men stated that this was necessary to protect the integrity of paywalls: users could bypass them with the help of the chatbot.

Don’t know about it

The implementation of ChatGPT Browsing is similar to that of the competition. Just like Bard and Bing Chat, the end user can see that the chatbot is first surfing the web for information. A summarized answer will then appear, supplemented with footnotes and a link to more reading material.

In that respect, the chatbot’s output differs significantly from the regular ChatGPT answers. First of all, there are no source references, although the LLM can provide a relatively generic explanation of the data it used for the given output. The explanation based on the existing dataset (which runs until January 2022) is also often more extensive and follow-up questions can lead to a refined output from ChatGPT. On X can be seen that the Browsing function does not immediately lead to a smooth flow of current information. In that respect, Bard and Bing Chat seem better suited to delivering web results.

Existing alternative: plugins

OpenAI has already offered the Browsing feature in beta form for select Plus users. Previously introduced it already had ChatGPT plugins, which, among other things, allowed support for specific real-time information via other platforms. Everything from planning trips via Expedia and requesting calculations via Wolfram became possible. ChatGPT could therefore already consult the internet in various forms. However, OpenAI still hasn’t managed to integrate real-time resources beyond the status quo of Microsoft and Google. Perhaps this update is a start to that, but a definitive answer will have to wait a while.

In any case, OpenAI has done a lot of tinkering with the popular chatbot. It recently introduced support for image descriptions, in addition to spoken inputs and outputs, to make interacting with ChatGPT a step more human and provide more accessibility for end users.

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