ChatGPT Turns One: A History of OpenAI’s Groundbreaking Chatbot

The past year feels like an AI sprint into a new age of technological revolution. ChatGPT has finally turned one, and over this period, we have seen countless new advancements that have changed our lives. From being a simple chatbot that hallucinated a lot to an advanced and multimodal AI system, ChatGPT has grown tremendously over the course of one year.

So, on the first anniversary of ChatGPT, we take a look at all the progress and hiccups ChatGPT has gone through. From its launch to the current set of features it offers, we have included everything in the article. On that note, let’s begin.

ChatGPT Goes Live

On November 30, 2022, OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT to the world as part of the research preview for free. Within a short period of just two months, it amassed more than 100 million monthly users, becoming the fastest-growing service in the world, beating even Facebook.

Unlike abstract AI concepts that seemed far away from the reach of general users, ChatGPT finally allowed users to interact with an AI-powered chatbot in a friendly web interface.

ChatGPT was trained to be conversational, and it was built on OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 model. In a way, it was similar to InstructGPT, which followed user instructions to give a response. However, ChatGPT was trained to have a dialogue with users, while having context in mind. OpenAI in its opening blog noted that,

ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers

Hallucination was a challenging issue with the initial version of ChatGPT, built on the GPT-3.5 model. However, with the launch of the GPT-4 model (more on this below), OpenAI has managed to reduce factually incorrect responses significantly.

As for the ChatGPT hype, when the service was launched, it seemed the AI chatbot was going to kill Google Search and various other online products. We even pit ChatGPT against Google Search in a YouTube video. And now one year down the line, it feels like this is just the beginning of the AI age and a lot of new product discovery is yet to be made.

AI Classifier Launched to Detect AI-written Text

ChatGPT quickly rose to fame, and it was especially good at creative tasks such as writing academic papers, composing marketing emails, and even creating misinformation campaigns, etc. Seeing the surge in AI-written text on the web, there came the urgent need for AI plagiarism detectors and text checkers.

So, two months after ChatGPT’s launch, OpenAI released an official AI Classifier tool to help people distinguish between AI and human-written text.

However, in July, OpenAI quietly shut down the service citing a low rate of accuracy. If you’re in need of such a tool, you can check our list of best AI plagiarism checkers. However, in there, we have clearly mentioned that AI-powered plagiarism tools frequently give false positives and inconsistent results.

Thus, the effort to correctly identify AI-written text still continues, even after a year of ChatGPT’s release.

ChatGPT Plus Subscription Launched

In February 2023, four months after its release, OpenAI decided it was time to cash in on the hype and build a loyal and paying community. So, it launched its first subscription plan called ChatGPT Plus for $20 per month.

When it first launched, ChatGPT+ allowed users to access the chatbot even during peak times with faster response times. In addition, aChatGPT Plus users would get early access to new features and improvements in the coming months. Initially, the subscription plan was available to customers in the US only and was later expanded to users around the world.

ChatGPT API Released for Developers

Come March 2023, the company finally released the ChatGPT API, giving developers access to the powerful capabilities of the chatbot. Developers could build various products using ChatGPT’s API. Snapchat was one of the first companies to use its API to create a customizable chatbot that can offer recommendations and write a haiku for friends.

We also wrote a detailed article on how to train an AI chatbot with a custom knowledge base using the ChatGPT API. The best part about this initiative was that OpenAI gave away $5 worth of API credit to all free users. So developers and general users alike used the ChatGPT API to create some interesting projects.

ChatGPT Gets Upgraded to GPT-4 Model

In March 2023, OpenAI unveiled the next step in the evolution of its chatbot, and that came in the form of its next-gen model. It announced the world’s most powerful large language model, GPT-4, and ChatGPT Plus users could access it from day one.

It was one of the watershed moments in the history of LLM development. It was much better than the GPT-3.5 model at combating hallucination. GPT-4 scored more than 80% in accuracy tests across all categories.

Not only that, GPT-4 was also the first multimodal model that could understand both texts and images. GPT-4 could analyze scribbled notes on a piece of paper and create a mockup of websites in no time. Sure, the multimodal capability was added later in September (see below), but OpenAI had already cracked the secret sauce way back in March. Mind you, it’s only been 5 months since launch.

Announcing GPT-4 as the first multimodal LLM, OpenAI had already cracked the secret sauce back in March.

Apart from that, the word limit was increased to 25,000 words for ChatGPT Plus users whereas the free version of ChatGPT (built on GPT-3.5) had a limit of 8,000 words. Finally, GPT-4 also got better at understanding as many as 26 languages, both major and regional languages from around the world.

That said, its knowledge of world events was limited to September 2021 only. Nevertheless, GPT-4 marked an inflection point in AI development and many proprietary and open-source LLMs are still trying to outrank GPT-4.

ChatGPT Plugins Debut

As we mentioned above, GPT-4 had many exciting capabilities, but its knowledge was still limited to September 2021. Also, it was an isolated black box that could not interact with the outer world. This was a huge limitation for an AI chatbot with limitless potential.

So, OpenAI found a way around this problem by launching support for ChatGPT Plugins in March itself. The plugins allowed the LLM to interact with third-party services and even the Internet to fetch real-time data.

With the help of plugins, ChatGPT could access up-to-date information using a Web Browser plugin powered by Microsoft Bing (later renamed Browse with Bing). Moreover, it could run computations using the Code Interpreter plugin.

Code Interpreter was especially helpful as you finally had the ability to upload files to ChatGPT and ask ChatGPT to run various tasks using a sandboxed Python interpreter. It also brought data analysis and visualization to ChatGPT, and everyone went bonkers. With this tool, you can generate graphs, charts, and diagrams in ChatGPT.

Besides that, during the launch, OpenAI launched 11 third-party plugins, including Zapier, Expedia, Instacart, OpenTable, etc., and now hosts hundreds of plugins. Using these plugins, you can find and book flights, reserve a table at a restaurant, and do much more.

Basically, with ChatGPT Plugins, web browsing, and Code Interpreter, OpenAI was able to take the initial step towards expanding the LLM’s versatility. Furthermore, it opened up our eyes to the true potential of this chatbot, which was now getting a feature plugin store built on top of it.

ChatGPT Chat History Leak

March was the busiest month for OpenAI. The company launched its impressive GPT-4 model and expanded its utility via plugins, web browsing, and Code Interpreter. However, apart from showing off all its sparkly new features, OpenAI took ChatGPT offline due to a bug that leaked users’ chat history on ChatGPT.

Yes, this was OpenAI’s first major security blunder. The company further noted that some payment-related information may also have been visible to other users, but the affected users were only 1.2%. It quickly fixed the bug and explained the technical details in a blog here.

Manage Your Data in ChatGPT

Following the incident, OpenAI took some privacy-preserving steps to protect user’s interests. It added an option to ChatGPT to turn off chat history completely. After turning off chat history, your chats won’t be used to train and improve OpenAI models.

That said, even though you turn off the history toggle, it isn’t really turned off. OpenAI in its blog post says, even after disabling chat history, “we will retain new conversations for 30 days and review them only when needed to monitor for abuse, before permanently deleting.

OpenAI Introduces the ChatGPT App for iOS

The soaring popularity of ChatGPT gave rise to another huge problem. Copycats and low-quality clones. Since ChatGPT was so far limited to a web browser, it gave bad actors a chance to rip off users and make a quick buck.

This problem was especially rampant on mobile, with users searching for and downloading shady apps and malware-infested clones. To fix this, in May 2023, OpenAI first released a native, built-from-scratch ChatGPT app for iOS.

Thankfully, it wasn’t a web wrapper. Instead, the app brought support for chat history, voice input, and the GPT-4 model to ChatGPT Plus users using an iPhone. While the Android app did not come out at the same time, the company said it was coming very soon. Finally, the company released the ChatGPT app for Android phones in July 2023.

Now, the ChatGPT app for both Android and iOS has feature parity and supports GPT-4, DALL-E 3, Data Analysis, image analysis, and web browsing.

OpenAI Disables Browse With Bing Plugin

At the beginning of July 2023, OpenAI again faced a major challenge as its “Browse with Bing” plugin was showing content from paywalled sites on ChatGPT. Fearing lawsuits from publications, OpenAI quickly disabled the feature and revealed that it would “occasionally display content in ways we don’t want.”

Disabling this essential plugin meant ChatGPT+ users had no official option to access the internet and feed real-time information to the chatbot. However, with third-party plugins, users could still connect ChatGPT to the internet. Finally, after three months, in September 2023, “Browse with Bing” returned on ChatGPT with the needed fix.

Custom Instructions Come to ChatGPT

After a break of two months, OpenAI continued its spree of new feature additions to ChatGPT with custom instructions in July. It basically allows ChatGPT to know more about you and what kind of response it should generate. You can feed in your preferences, and ChatGPT will keep them in mind before responding to your query.

For example, if you ask the chatbot to find a good headphone for under $100, it can consider your location from the custom instructions and give a tailored reply, depending on your location and availability. You can also ask it to cut down on fluff and give a concise, to-the-point response.

ChatGPT Can See, Hear, and Speak

In September of 2023, OpenAI released a major update to ChatGPT. First unveiled on the iOS app, the new update allowed you to have a voice conversation with the model. In addition, you now had the ability to upload images to ChatGPT and ask questions about the image.

Basically, the multimodal capability that was shown off back in March was finally added to ChatGPT using its Whisper (speech recognition model) and GPT-4V (GPT-4 Vision model). The update was widely released to all iOS and Android users sometime in November 2023.

Now, even web users can perform image analysis on ChatGPT. The voice chat feature is still limited to the mobile apps, though.

GPT-4V (Vision) Released

In September itself, OpenAI released a separate research paper detailing how their new GPT-4V system works. The GPT-4 model with vision capabilities can analyze images uploaded to ChatGPT and infer the visual information in natural language. Its training was completed in 2022, and OpenAI took severe measures to tame the vision model from evaluating harmful content, including CAPTCHA breaking, person identification, gender and race recognition, illicit behavior, etc.

The GPT-4V model has been heavily touted as the frontier model for medical image diagnosis, but OpenAI in its research paper says, “Given the model’s imperfect performance in this domain and the risks associated with inaccuracies, we do not consider the current version of GPT-4V to be fit for performing any medical function or substituting professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, or judgment.

Dall-E 3 Released to ChatGPT

DALL-E has been OpenAI’s proprietary text-to-image model, but in its initial state, it has not been able to compete against Midjourney. However, with the latest DALL-E 3 model released in October, OpenAI has come very close to understanding textual nuances and abstract concepts and translating them into accurate images.

The best part, you no longer need to visit a different website to use it. DALL-E 3 is integrated into ChatGPT. It generates incredible AI images and the best part is that it’s bundled with the ChatGPT Plus subscription.

Moreover, the need for detailed prompts is eliminated with this integration. ChatGPT can take your basic prompts and turn them into detailed prompts for generating diverse and unique images using DALL-E 3. Follow our step-by-step guide to learn how to generate images with DALL-E 3.

GPT-4 Turbo Model and GPTs Announced

On November 6, 2023, OpenAI held its first-ever developer conference, DevDay in San Francisco. The company made several major announcements, including a new GPT-4 Turbo model with more capabilities, a larger context window, and cheaper pricing.

First of all, the Turbo model has knowledge of world events up to April 2023. Next, it has a 128K context window – up from 8K and 32K maximum token of GPT-4. Best of all, it’s 3x cheaper than the GPT-4 model for input tokens, which is amazing given that GPT-4 was very expensive to run.

The GPT-4 Turbo model has not been added to ChatGPT yet, but OpenAI has “plan[s] to release the stable production-ready model in the coming weeks.” Also, the GPT-3.5 Turbo model has also been upgraded and now supports a 16K context window.

Furthermore, the ChatGPT website has been completely overhauled and you don’t need to manually select different options for different tasks when using the GPT-4 model. You can use DALL-E 3, web browsing, and data analysis without switching between options. They are all active and will be called upon as required.

Finally, coming to the highlight of DevDay, we have GPTs. You can now create a custom version of ChatGPT with your custom instructions, custom knowledge through PDFs and other documents, and assign special skills to the bot. It’s a powerful new tool that lets you create a tailored version of ChatGPT for your specific task, and you can learn how to create a personalized GPT here.

OpenAI is rolling out a GPT Store where you can find publicly available GPTs for various purposes.

OpenAI Stops New ChatGPT Plus Sign-ups

Just after DevDay, OpenAI announced that it’s pausing new sign-ups for ChatGPT Plus. Initially, the company said the surge in traffic has been tremendous, especially after the DevDay event. However, later, it was confirmed that ChatGPT was facing an intense DDoS attack from malicious actors.

As a result, ChatGPT faced a massive outage for several hours. In a statement, OpenAI said, “We are dealing with periodic outages due to an abnormal traffic pattern reflective of a DDoS attack. We are continuing work to mitigate this.” Finally, on November 9, the service resumed after resolving the issues.

Within one year, ChatGPT has undergone incredible change and now hosts the world’s most capable large language model. In addition, it has gotten impressive features like plugins, web browsing, code interpreter, custom instructions, multimodal capability, larger context window, GPTs, and so much more. We’re excited about what OpenAI does next with ChatGPT and its next-gen model, especially with Sam Altman back at the helm. Yeah, back, read more about the chaos at OpenAI over the past couple of weeks in the article linked below.

What the Future Holds for ChatGPT?

While ChatGPT has gotten pretty powerful, let’s be clear that this is “just the beginning” before the next explosion of AI. Many experts believe that a dialogue-based, conversational chatbot is not the only interface to interact with Generative AI.

In the future, we may have immensely powerful multimodal AI systems that can understand text, voice, visual elements, ambient data, and sensory data from human brain activity to draw contextual inferences and perform actions in real time.

Apart from that, AI can be tightly integrated into AR and VR interfaces to create a highly interactive and immersive experience. Also, beyond AI chatbot integration into apps, smartphones, and devices will run AI systems at the OS level to understand and perform tailored actions automatically.

From managing emails to creating schedules based on your usage and priority, AI can automatically do things for you. Qualcomm has already explained how personalized, on-device AI will work in the future.

Not to forget, OpenAI and many other companies are already working on AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) that can surpass human capabilities that require intellectual input and reasoning.

In fact, the ChatGPT-maker is already working on a solution to overcome training data limitations by generating high-quality synthetic data. Whether it’s connected to the ongoing discussion on the talk-of-the-town that is Project Q* is yet to be established.

Overall, I would say that ChatGPT as a conversational chatbot has gone from being limited to having quite the many applications, sitting at the top like a king. Still, if we zoom out and look at the bigger picture, it can feel limited, and we may see countless new forms of AI experiences in the future.

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