ChatGPT is, without doubt, the biggest tech story of the year. It’s created debate in schools and universities, made history by being the fastest ever growing app in history and even caused Google to issue a Code Red! But if you haven’t heard anything about it or still can’t get your head around it then I’ve got you! Keep reading because I’ve put together a ‘cheat sheet’ to help get you up to speed plus some pointers on how to manage this intriguing technology and your kids.
So, what is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is an online software program that uses a new form of artificial intelligence – generative artificial intelligence – to provide human style responses to a broad array of requests. And let me assure you, its responses are much less robotic and far more intelligent sounding that earlier iterations of artificial intelligence. Whether you need a recipe formulated, poetry written, tips for your next party or text translated, ChatGPT can assist. Think of it as Google but on steroids. But instead of overwhelming you with 1000’s of search results, it summarises them in a conversational form.
It was developed by San Francisco startup OpenAI, which was co-founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman in 2015. Like all new startups, it also has a host of investors in tow but Microsoft is without a doubt, the biggest.
When I asked ChatGPT to describe itself, it replied:
ChatGPT is a conversational AI model developed by OpenAI. It’s based on the GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) architecture, which is one of the largest and most advanced language models in existence. The model has been trained on a massive corpus of text data from the internet, allowing it to generate human-like responses to a wide range of topics and questions. It can be used to power various applications such as chatbots, language translation, content generation, and more.
Let me simplify – ChatGPT uses generative artificial intelligence to provide ‘human style’ content, language translation, summarisation ability and search engine results within seconds. It can solve maths questions, write jokes, develop a resume and cover letter, write code and even help you prepare for a job interview.
How Does It Work?
ChatGPT is powered by a large language model, or LLM, meaning it’s programmed to understand human language and create responses based on large quantities of data. It has the ability to remember or ‘log’ context from a user’s previous message and use it to create responses later in the conversation, giving it a human-like feel.
How Popular is it?
Just five days after its release, Chap GPT had signed up 1 million users, according to a tweet by OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman. In just two months, it had amassed a whopping 100 million monthly active users making it the fastest growing application in history. And just to give you some context, it took TikTok nine months to reach 100 million users and two and half years for Instagram.
Without doubt, the main reasons for its popularity is the ease of access and its seemingly endless scope of ability. It’s super easy to use – once you’ve set up an account, it’s as simple as typing in your request or question into the text box. And there is no minimum age required for users – unlike many other social media platforms. And because it can assist with any issue from writing a legal brief to answering questions to providing companionship in almost 100 languages, a lot of us could easily find a way to use it in our day-to-day lives.
Some experts believe that the timing of ChatGPT is another reason for its success. It’s widely known that the Renaissance period followed The Black Death in the 14th Century so ChatGPT could have arrived at a time in history when creativity is surging after 2-3 very long and hard years of living with Covid.
How Much Does It Cost?
ChatGPT is still a free service however recently it has introduced a premium version called ChatGPT Plus. For $US20 per month, users will get access to the chatbot even when demand is high with a faster response speed. Priority access to new features will also be made available to new users. While I have never had an issue gaining access to ChatGPT, even in peak times, friends of mine in the US have had to invest in the paid membership otherwise they have to wait till late in the evening to have their questions answered!
Does It Have Any Competitors?
Microsoft recently announced that it will be incorporating some of the ChatGPT functionality into its Bing and Edge search engines but that it will use a next generation OpenAI model that is more powerful than ChatGPT. If you’re a Microsoft customer, keep a watch on your inbox for an invite!
Google has just unveiled its offering. Called Bard, it’s similar to ChatGPT but the biggest difference is that it will use current information from the web whereas ChatGPT’s data sources are only current as of September 2021 – I did confirm that with my ChatGPT source!! Bard is projected to be ready for use by the end of February 2023. Interestingly, Google was in fact the first to embrace conversational AI through the launch of Lamda (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) in 2021 but it didn’t launch a consumer version which left a wide opening for ChatGPT to be the first offering in the consumer race.
As a Parent, What Should I Be Concerned About?
There’s no doubt that ChatGPT will help fuel a curious mind and be a captivating way to spend time online for inquisitive kids however there are a few things us parents need to be aware of to ensure our kids stay as safe as possible.
1. When ChatGPT Can Do Your Homework
Without a doubt, using ChatGPT to write your essay, solve a maths problem or translate your French homework, has been the biggest concern for schools, universities, and parents. Some schools have already banned the use of ChatGPT while others are rewriting curriculums to avoid tasks that could be undertaken by ChatGPT.
However, it appears that these concerns may be managed with the release of new software that can detect work that has been produced by ChatGPT. Stanford University has just released DetectGPT which will help teachers detect work that was created using the ChatGPT chatbot or other similar large language models (LLMs). ChatGPT has also released its own ChatGPT software detection tool however it does refer to it as ‘imperfect’.
What To Do – Some experts believe we need to work with ChatGPT and that it in fact could be a powerful teaching tool if it’s embraced and used wisely. Regardless of your thoughts on this, I suggest you work closely with your child’s school to understand what their policy is on its use and encourage your kids to follow it accordingly.
2. Inappropriate Content
Even though ChatGPT states that its intention is to ‘generate appropriate and informative responses’, there’s no guarantee that this will always happen. I have spent a considerable time trying to catch it out and I am pleased to report that I couldn’t. It appears that there are certain topics it steers away from and that it does seem to have a good set of boundaries about what questions not to answer or topics to not content on, however don’t rely on these!
What To Do – If you have concerns, ensure your child has supervision when using ChatGPT.
3. Chat GPT Doesn’t Always Get It Right
While ChatGPT’s IQ and scope seems limitless, it isn’t perfect. Not only have there been reports of it being factually incorrect when creating content, its data sources are only current as at September 2021.
What To Do – Double check the content it creates for accuracy but steer your child towards a reliable and safe source for research projects.
And my final piece of advice – if you haven’t yet used ChatGPT, make yourself a cuppa and give it a whirl. Like everything in the online world, you need to understand how it works if you want to be able to help your kids stay safe. And if you aren’t sure what to ask it – why not a recipe for dinner? Simply enter what you can find in your fridge in the text box and within seconds, you’ll have a recipe!