What is ChatGPT and who created it?

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot that was created by Anthropic, an AI safety startup based in San Francisco. It uses a large language model to generate human-like text conversations on a wide range of topics. The model was trained by Anthropic on massive amounts of text data from the internet in order to allow it to converse naturally.

ChatGPT launched in November 2022 and quickly went viral due to its advanced conversational abilities compared to previous chatbots. It was built using a technique called self-supervised learning, which allows the AI to improve through conversations without the need for human labeling of training data. The goal of Anthropic is to develop AI that is helpful, harmless, and honest.

ChatGPT’s capabilities

ChatGPT is capable of understanding natural language queries and responding to them with human-like responsiveness and accuracy. It can answer general knowledge questions, explain concepts, summarize long passages of text, translate between languages, write essays, poems, code and more.

Some key capabilities of ChatGPT include:

  • Maintaining context in long conversational threads and adjusting responses accordingly
  • Communicating in a natural, conversational tone similar to how humans speak and write
  • Providing creative outputs like stories, poems, jokes based on prompts
  • Admitting when it doesn’t know something or makes a mistake
  • Refusing inappropriate requests and operating within defined safety constraints
  • Performing logical reasoning and answering follow-up questions about its responses

The technology behind ChatGPT

ChatGPT was created using a machine learning technique called Transformer-based large language models. This involves training a very large neural network on massive text data like books, websites and online conversations.

The model learns the patterns and relationships between words in human language, allowing it to then generate new coherent text that is customized for the prompt. Key to its performance is its size – ChatGPT has 175 billion parameters, making it one of the largest language AI models created to date.

Advances in compute power, data and model architecture made it possible for Anthropic to scale up the size of ChatGPT significantly compared to previous conversational AI systems. This expanded capacity is what enables its impressive conversational abilities.

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However, despite its advanced capabilities, ChatGPT does have significant limitations in its knowledge and reasoning due to being constrained by its training data.

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ChatGPT’s viral growth and impact

Shortly after its launch in November 2022, ChatGPT went viral as people explored its conversational abilities. Downloads of the AI chatbot exceeded 1 million in less than a week.

Its launch coincided with increased mainstream interest in generative AI, which had already been building throughout 2022. But ChatGPT captured attention due to its fun, accessible conversational interface that enabled anyone to experiment with a powerful AI system.

As ChatGPT spread, its capabilities and limitations provoked debates about the future societal impacts of large language models. Some of the positive potentials discussed included:

  • Enabling more natural human-AI interactions
  • Automating basic content creation & customer service
  • Helping creatives expand their ideas
  • Improving accessibility through personalized explanations
  • Providing educational support for students

But risks and concerns raised included:

  • Potential to spread misinformation due to limited knowledge
  • Hindering development of critical thinking skills
  • Enabling new forms of cheating and plagiarism
  • Automating some human jobs/tasks
  • Exacerbating inequities between those who have access to advanced AI and those who don’t

The pace of ChatGPT’s growth took the tech world by surprise. Its viral spread highlighted the appetite for next-generation AI while also sparking important debates about its future impact on society.

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Anthropic’s business model and plans

As an AI safety startup, Anthropic has a mission to develop AI that is helpful, harmless and honest. The company was founded in 2021 by Dario Amodei and Daniela Amodei, two former researchers at OpenAI, along with Tom Brown and Jared Kaplan.

Anthropic is taking a research-focused approach to developing ChatGPT and future language models responsibly. This involves extensive testing to minimize harms and understand failure modes before release.

ChatGPT was initially launched as a free research tool without advertisements. Going forward, Anthropic plans to create paid APIs and enterprise products to monetize access to ChatGPT for business uses.

Some of Anthropic’s key business strategies include:

  • Focusing on enterprise customers needing conversational AI capabilities
  • Offering customized solutions and support packages
  • Developing coaching and moderation tools to make AI interactions safer
  • Expanding access through free options with limited capabilities
  • Partnering with Big Tech platforms to distribute products
  • Maintaining high standards of transparency, ethics and safety
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Anthropic has raised over $300 million from investors including some of Silicon Valley’s top VC firms like DCVC and Breyer Capital. As a well-funded private company, Anthropic has significant runway to invest in long-term AI safety research far from quarterly earnings pressures.

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OpenAI and Microsoft’s investments

While ChatGPT was created by Anthropic, it leverages foundational research and models developed by OpenAI, an AI research lab in San Francisco.

OpenAI was co-founded in 2015 by Elon Musk, Sam Altman and others as a non-profit focused on ensuring beneficial AI development. In 2019, OpenAI transitioned to a “capped-profit” hybrid model with backing from investors including Microsoft.

Microsoft has been a close OpenAI collaborator and investor since 2019, committing over $1 billion to finance the lab. This investment enabled OpenAI to pursue much larger AI models and compute infrastructure.

Key OpenAI models that served as precursors to ChatGPT include:

  • GPT-3: Massive language model with 175 billion parameters released in 2020
  • DALL-E: AI system that creates images from text captions
  • Codex: Program that translates natural language to code
  • Claude: Conversational agent focused on safe, grounded dialogue

Microsoft benefits from OpenAI’s research by integrating its models into products like Azure AI and Bing search. Most notably, Microsoft is developing a next-generation Bing search engine integrated with ChatGPT.

The investments from Microsoft have been vital to scaling up OpenAI’s models and compute infrastructure to enable breakthroughs like ChatGPT. The partnership gives Microsoft early access to deploy these AI capabilities across its global technology ecosystem.

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Risks and limitations of ChatGPT

Despite ChatGPT’s impressive conversational abilities, it does have several key limitations and risks currently:

Limited knowledge: Its training data ended in 2021, so it lacks up-to-date understanding of current events and factual knowledge.

Potential misinformation: Without comprehensive knowledge, ChatGPT can generate plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical responses.

Lack of reasoning: It has limited abilities for logical reasoning and answering highly complex questions.

Bias: It can exhibit harmful biases from imperfections in training data.

Harmful use: ChatGPT could be misused for generating misinformation, spam/phishing content, school cheating.

Job disruption: Automating human roles like content writing and customer service carries risks of displacing workers.

As ChatGPT is based on a statistical language model, it aims to respond sensibly without a sense of “truth” or morality. This can make its answers seem untrustworthy or potentially dangerous without oversight.

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ChatGPT itself warns users that its responses should not be relied on for accuracy. While impressive, its skills are still narrow and brittle compared to human intelligence.

Much more research and development is needed for Anthropic to address these risks and create safer, more aligned AI systems. But the rapid pace of progress indicates how quickly conversational AI is advancing.

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The future of conversational AI

The launch of ChatGPT is an early glimpse of the future potential for natural language conversational AI. While still in its infancy, rapid progress in this field is expected over the next decade.

Some ways conversational AI like ChatGPT could evolve include:

  • Expanding knowledge capabilities with hybrid approaches combining language models, knowledge graphs, simulations and reasoning.
  • Integration into smart devices, cars, robots and embodied agents.
  • Personalization for individual users and conversations.
  • Addition of vision, speech and multimodal inputs/outputs.
  • New creativity skills like generating multimedia content.
  • Increased use of conversational AI for customer service, sales and marketing.
  • Applications in education, healthcare, and other fields through “expert models”.

Key challenges will include reducing bias, increasing transparency, establishing accountability and developing aligned goals between humans and AI.

But if done responsibly, conversational AI could enable much more natural, productive and personalized interactions between humans and machines – ultimately augmenting human capabilities in a more symbiotic way.

The trajectory of models like ChatGPT will depend on how companies choose to deploy them, government policies, and civil society oversight driving positive visions for human-AI collaboration.