OpenAI Broadens ChatGPT Capabilities By Adding Plugin Support And Access To Third-Party Services

OpenAI has given ChatGPT potentially one of its biggest upgrades yet, one that turns the chatty AI into a connected do-it-all internet platform of its own. The Microsoft-backed company has launched plugins for ChatGPT, which allow the AI to pull relevant — and most importantly, up-to-date — information from the internet. So far, ChatGPT has avoided commenting on recent events because the training dataset only dates back as far back as 2021. Thanks to plugins, ChatGPT can now pull information from databases hosted on the web.

For example, grocery delivery service Instacart is among the first wave of businesses to offer a ChatGPT plugin. The next time you ask ChatGPT to give you a meal plan for the next seven days, it will oblige as usual. But going a step further, the AI will also go through Insatcart's store, find the groceries for the recipes it recommended, and automatically add them all to the shopping cart. All you need to do is click on the Instacart URL provided by ChatGPT and you will land on the Instacart checkout page. Slack, Zapier, Shopify, Klara, and Expedia are among the other well-known names that have already created ChatGPT plugins.

Turning ChatGPT into a web platform

Right now, OpenAI is extending the plugin creation facility to ChatGPT subscribers, and will be opening it to the masses "over time." OpenAI has also built a web browsing plugin of its own, and another one for code interpretation. The former is more important, because it adds some much-needed transparency to the whole process of pulling information from the web, and also reduces the risk of consuming misinformation. Unsurprisingly, the browser plug-in borrows from Microsoft's Bing Chat format.

When users enter a query that would require ChatGPT to extract information from multiple sources and then offer it in a summarised form, users will get to see the whole task chain. For example, they will see a sequential list of what query the AI looked up on the Bing search engine and what source link it clicked to parse the information. Once the response is generated, users will also see the citation links embedded in the summary offered by ChatGPT. 

Notably, OpenAI acknowledges that "plugins could increase safety challenges by taking harmful or unintended actions, increasing the capabilities of bad actors who would defraud, mislead, or abuse others." However, the company assures that it has built some safeguards to mitigate the risk factors.