The free artificial intelligence chatbot has attracted the attention of giant companies like Microsoft, who will reportedly cut a potential $10 billion deal with the company that owns ChatGPT, OpenAI.
“What’s unique about this is that it presents information in a way that a human would,” says Gene Munster, a managing partner for Loup Ventures, a technology research and investment firm. “It essentially has the ability to think.”
Artificial intelligence research has been going on for decades, but it was only recently that OpenAI released its ChatGPT chatbot to the public via an easy-to-use website. People must first create an account before they can enter a query into the system. Within about 5 seconds, ChatGPT will generate text of an answer.
“In this case, ChatGPT is making decisions on its own, which is very different from how things have been crafted over the past 15 years,” says Munster.
ChatGPT, which stands for “chat generative pre-trained transformer,” can answer questions ranging from complex math problems to parenting advice to computer code writing. It is capable of producing a term paper or a book report. It can write a second-grade level explanation of thermodynamics.
WCCO recently covered a story about a Minnesota start-up that created an online course entirely using artificial intelligence.
“If you shift your thinking from, ‘This is gonna replace me, no one’s gonna have jobs,’ and start shifting it to, ‘How can I use this to make myself more productive?’ And you’re on the early wave of that, you will find success before anyone else,” said JazzJune founder and CEO Alex Londo.
Munster says the technology isn’t perfect and gets the information correct between 80-90% of the time. He expects that to get closer to 99% over the next few years.
“One of the biggest pros here is that ChatGPT can free us to focus on more higher level problems,” Munster says. “In terms of the cons, it’s pretty obvious, it has the power to change our ability to think critically.”
ChatGPT has been a hot topic in many Minnesota schools over the last few months.
Colleges and universities are debating how to balance the prevention of plagiarism with the incorporation of this new technology into their curricula.
There are numerous approaches used by school districts. Both St. Paul Public Schools and Robbinsdale Schools have prohibited the use of ChatGPT on school computers.
The Anoka-Hennepin School District is recognizing the potential for disruption and asking the same questions they did when calculators and internet-enabled smartphones were introduced.
“It’s huge,” says Munster. “It’s hard to understand how big ChatGPT can be.”
ChatGPT has some limitations for safety and security reasons. The program will not provide financial advice, such as stock tips. It will not teach people how to make dangerous items such as bombs. It only has information up to 2021, so people are out of luck when it comes to very recent events.