A major update to ChatGPT’s functionality that provides it access to live web data for the first time is the addition of plug-in support by OpenAI. The announcement came on March 23.
The fact that ChatGPT can only access its training data—which expires in 2021—has limited it up until this point. According to OpenAI, plug-ins would let the bot not only search the web but also communicate with particular websites, potentially transforming the system into a flexible interface for a variety of services and websites.
A “limited number of users” will soon have access to plug-ins, according to OpenAI. There are initially 11 plug-ins for external websites, including Zapier, Expedia, OpenTable, Kayak, and Klarna Shopping.
Additionally, OpenAI is offering some of its own plug-ins, including one for deciphering code and another one called “Browsing,” which enables ChatGPT to access the internet for data.
The company uses a scenario where a user inquires about how the box office performances of this year’s Oscar winners compare to those of recently released films. The browsing plug-in responds by displaying the sources it used to gather its information. Before, ChatGPT would not have been able to perform this.
OpenAI claims to have considered the risks posed by these plug-ins and “applied many safeguards,” including initially only making the plug-ins available to a very small group of users. The firm offers a sign-up for a waitlist here and states in a blog post that it would initially prioritize a small number of developers and ChatGPT Plus subscribers” to acquire plug-in access.