OpenAI, with the backing of Microsoft, has made a groundbreaking announcement regarding ChatGPT. This innovative chatbot can now browse the internet in real-time to provide users with current information, marking a significant leap forward in its capabilities.

Prior to this development, ChatGPT’s knowledge was limited to data up to September 2021. However, with this upgrade, the chatbot can provide users, particularly premium ones initially, with real-time information on current affairs and access to the latest news.

OpenAI has indicated that this feature will soon be made available to all users.

Moreover, OpenAI has also unveiled plans for ChatGPT to engage in voice conversations with users, further enhancing its utility and versatility.

These developments represent a major advancement in the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and have the potential to revolutionize how people seek information online.

ChatGPT and similar AI systems operate by processing vast amounts of data to generate responses that closely resemble human conversation. These systems have been poised to reshape the landscape of online information retrieval.

However, until now, ChatGPT’s “knowledge” had been stagnant, drawing from internet content as it existed in September 2021 and unable to access real-time data.

As a result, it was unable to provide current information on topics such as recent earthquakes or the status of public figures.

This limitation had been a drawback for potential users seeking up-to-the-minute information. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of business psychology at University College London, noted the significance of this upgrade, stating that ChatGPT could now serve as a source for the latest news, gossip, and current events.

It is expected to divert numerous inquiries that would typically go to search engines or news outlets.

However, Chamorro-Premuzic also cautioned that this newfound functionality comes with potential pitfalls. While it offers quick responses to urgent queries, the absence of clear sourcing could lead to misinformation.

Without proper attribution to reliable sources, users may assume the information provided by ChatGPT is accurate, even when it may not be.

OpenAI has faced regulatory scrutiny, especially in the United States, over concerns that ChatGPT could generate false or misleading information.

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sought information from the Microsoft-backed organization on how it addresses the potential risks to people’s reputations posed by its technology.

OpenAI’s CEO committed to working with the FTC to address these concerns.

Several factors had previously prevented ChatGPT from accessing real-time information. One of these factors was the cost of computing resources, as each query processed by OpenAI reportedly incurred a financial cost.

Additionally, the limited data served as a safety net, preventing ChatGPT from inadvertently disseminating harmful or illegal material or spreading misinformation sourced from bad actors.

It lacked the capability to access newly uploaded content on the internet, particularly in response to specific queries.

When questioned about the delay in enabling real-time internet access, ChatGPT itself provided three explanations. Firstly, it stated that developing advanced language models was a time-consuming and resource-intensive process.

Secondly, it highlighted the potential for introducing inaccuracies with real-time data. Lastly, it cited privacy and ethical concerns, particularly regarding copyrighted content that might be accessed without permission.

The expanded functionalities of ChatGPT underscore the significant ethical and practical dilemmas facing the AI sector. While removing or loosening restrictions on AI systems can enhance their usefulness, it also raises concerns about potential misuse and inaccuracies.

Striking the right balance between utility and safety remains a key challenge for the field of AI.

Last Updated: 28 September 2023