OpenAI announced that they are slowly rolling out plugins for ChatGPT that will extend the functionality to allow it to do new things such as browse the web.
What Are ChatGPT Plugins?
OpenAI describes their plugins as tools that ChatGPT can use.
These new plugins still being tested and don’t necessarily work perfectly out of the box.
ChatGPT has to be trained to use them.
The plugin generating the most excitement is one that enables Internet browsing, which many users are reporting buggy results.
But to be fair, these plugins are currently released as part of an Alpha testing program to just a select few users and developers.
To use the plugin the user doesn’t have to do anything to trigger the use of a plugin.
ChatGPT will invoke the plugin if it needs it to complete a task.
Nevertheless, OpenAI provides the option for users to activate a plugin if they feel it is needed.
OpenAI explained how plugins work:
“The model’s goal is to help the user.
ChatGPT will intelligently decide between calling a plugin and handling a user’s query using its intrinsic knowledge.
For example, the model may decide that a question about current events requires calling a browser plugin, but may feel comfortable answering a very simple math or science question without using a plugin.
The user can always nudge the model to use a plugin by asking the model to use a plugin explicitly, like ‘Use Expedia to plan my NYC trip‘.”
ChatGPT 3.5 With Browsing – Alpha
A new plugin that allows ChatGPT to browse the Internet just started rolling out for users.
The ability to have ChatGPT complete tasks with information from the Internet is a feature that users have long wanted because the current model contains data that is current only up to 2021.
This new plugin allows access to more up to date information and it will make it possible to accomplish more tasks.
The new plugin is labeled as an Alpha version.
Alpha versions of software are the first version of a software and are generally presumed to have issues (called bugs), which the testers are supposed to find.
A Beta version of a software is one that is ready to be widely tested by volunteers.
Software companies often release Alpha and Beta versions with a disclaimer that they are released for testing purposes and not for use in critical business settings.
Users Share Their Experiences With ChatGPT Plugins
A recent thread on Reddit highlighted the Alpha quality of the browsing plugin.
One user related that they have access to a code interpreter plugin and confirmed the existence of a Slack channel for sharing feedback on that plugin.
The Redditor wrote:
“This is one of the options along with code interpreter and plugins when you sign up for plugins access.
I’ve code interpreter access and got invited to a private beta slack group to give feedback.
You might get invited to a slack group as well to give open ai feedback.
Enjoy this feature.”
Another user with access to the new ChatGPT Browsing Plugin shared:
“Have you noticed that it does not answer at all 75% of the time? Think it has to do with the kinds of questions, for example, when I ask it to browse a specific URL it’s very hit or miss.”
Another user commented on how the browsing plugin seems to fall into a browsing loop that wouldn’t end.
The user wrote:
“Specify a limit to how long it can browse. If I add ‘spend no more than ten minutes browsing and if you need more time ask me‘ to my prompt, it answers quickly every time.
If I don’t include that in my prompt, sometimes it’ll just say ‘browsing‘ forever.”
Another Redditor discovered limits as to what sites can be accessed. It may be a guardrail against accessing sites that are unreliable.
“Ask it to search a specific domain like Reddit, and it has no problem.
Ask it to search Yandex and you get ‘Sorry, blah blah language model strive to only produce accurate information from reliable sources.
Would you like me to search with Google?‘.”
Third Party Plugins
In addition to plugins developed by OpenAI, developers can join a waitlist and when invited can use the existing documentation to create a plugin.
The plugin works through an Application Programming Interface (API).
An API is a set of rules (called protocols) that function like a connecting bridge between two different software programs.
In this case, ChatGPT is one software and the plugin created by a developer is the other software, with the API in the middle enabling the two software to function together.
The official OpenAI documentation for plugin developers states:
“OpenAI plugins connect ChatGPT to third-party applications. These plugins enable ChatGPT to interact with APIs defined by developers, enhancing ChatGPT’s capabilities and allowing it to perform a wide range of actions.
Plugins can allow ChatGPT to do things like:
- Retrieve real-time information; e.g., sports scores, stock prices, the latest news, etc.
- Retrieve knowledge-base information; e.g., company docs, personal notes, etc.
- Perform actions on behalf of the user; e.g., booking a flight, ordering food, etc.
…The AI model acts as an intelligent API caller. Given an API spec and a natural-language description of when to use the API, the model proactively calls the API to perform actions.
For instance, if a user asks, ‘Where should I stay in Paris for a couple nights?‘, the model may choose to call a hotel reservation plugin API, receive the API response, and generate a user-facing answer combining the API data and its natural language capabilities.”
Examples of third-party plugins that have already been created:
Access to ChatGPT plugins are currently being granted at a limited scale to ChatGPT Plus users and to developers who are on a waitlist.
Users who want access to these plugins can also sign up to the waitlist (the same waitlist is used for both users and developers).
The official announcement noted that the plugin rollout is Alpha-level access and that they intend to eventually release plugins to more users in time.
Read the official OpenAI announcement:
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