If OpenAI hadn’t blown enough minds with the release of GPT-4, it’s massively expanded the potential of its LLMs just a week later.
OpenAI has announced it is introducing plugins in ChatGPT. “Users have been asking for plugins since we launched ChatGPT (and many developers are experimenting with similar ideas) because they unlock a vast range of possible use cases,” OpenAI said in its blog. The first plugins have been created by Expedia, FiscalNote, Instacart, KAYAK, Klarna, Milo, OpenTable, Shopify, Slack, Speak, Wolfram, and Zapier. OpenAI has also created two plugins of its own, including a web browser and code interpreter.
The plugins will allow users to marry the capabilities of ChatGPT with the use-cases of other businesses. The Wolfram plugin, for instance, will allow users to “access computation, math, curated knowledge & real-time data through Wolfram|Alpha and Wolfram Language.” ChatGPT often fails relatively simple math tasks, but along with Wolfram Alpha could become a formidable computing machine.
Another plugin, through text commands alone, allows users to extract the first 5 seconds of a video. ChatGPT couldn’t access files or the internet prior to this, but with the plugin, can now accept and modify video files as input.
The ChatGPT plugin with Zapier can find an email and respond to it based on just a text command. It can send messages on Slack, and also create files on Notion.
Most crucially, the plugins also allow ChatGPT to access the internet. ChatGPT’s information base had been only until September 2021, but with these plugins, it can provide information on recent events as well.
These are all momentous changes. An OpenAI employee called it “the biggest leap in interacting with the internet since the iPhone”, and this might well be the case. These plugins transform ChatGPT from a product to a platform, and could well unleash thousands of new use cases for the technology. This is the path through which other comapnies had grown too — Facebook, for instance, had allowed developers to build games, apps and quizzes on its platform in its early years which catapulted its growth. Apple had provided the underlying platform of the app store, and had resulted in the creation of thousands of apps. OpenAI seems to be treading a similar path, but not with a platform but with its underlying technology. It’s likely that other players, such as Google, could eventually catch up to the capabilities of GPT-4, but if OpenAI can get enough developers and plugins on its platform, it could end up creating a dominant product that could be hard to dislodge for decades.