If you're new to using the most popular AI chatbot around, we'll guide you through everything you need to know to get started and the different ways you can use it.
ChatGPT has continued to dazzle the internet with AI-generated content, morphing from a novel chatbot into a piece of technology that is driving the next era of innovation. Not everyone’s on board yet, though, and you’re probably wondering: What’s ChatGPT all about?
Made by OpenAI, well-known for having developed the text-to-image generator DALL-E, ChatGPT is currently available for anyone to try out for free, now with even a free iOS being launched. Here’s what ChatGPT is, how to use it, and how it could change the future of the internet.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a natural language AI chatbot. At its most basic level, that means you can ask it any question, and it will generate an answer.
As opposed to a simple voice assistant like Siri or Google Assistant, though, ChatGPT is built on what is called an LLM (Large Language Model). These neural networks are trained on huge quantities of information from the internet for deep learning — meaning they generate altogether new responses, rather than just regurgitating specific canned responses. They’re not built for a specific purpose like chatbots of the past — and they’re a whole lot smarter.
This is implied in the name of ChatGPT, which stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer. In the case of the current version of ChatGPT, it’s based on the GPT-3.5 LLM. The model behind ChatGPT was trained on all sorts of web content including websites, books, social media, news articles, and more — all fine-tuned in the language model by both supervised learning and RLHF (Reinforcement Learning From Human Feedback). OpenAI says this use of human AI trainers is really what makes ChatGPT stand out.
ChatGPT was first launched as a prototype to the public in November 2022, quickly growing to over 100 million users by January of 2023, making it the most quickly-adopted piece of software ever made.
How to use ChatGPT
First, go to chat.openai.com. If it’s your first time, you’ll need to set up a free account with OpenAI before getting started. You have the option of choosing an easy login with a Google or Microsoft account, or just entering your email address. You’ll be asked next to enter a phone number; however, keep in mind that you cannot use a virtual phone number (VoIP) to register for OpenAI. You will then receive a confirmation number, which you will enter on the registration page to complete the setup.
You’ll see some basic rules about ChatGPT, including potential errors in data, how OpenAI collects data, and how users can submit feedback — all of which have some wondering about whether or not ChatGPT is safe to use. Once you’re through that, you know you have successfully registered. You’re in!
If you’re on an iPhone, you can also download the official iOS app that OpenAI has released — either way, the instructions from here are similar. Please note, though, that there is no official Android, Mac, or Windows app just yet. If you’re using one of those platforms, we recommend sticking to the web app to avoid any possible scams or fakes.
Using the ChatGPT chatbot itself is fairly simple, as all you have to do is type in your text and receive information. The key here is to be creative and see how your ChatGPT responds to different prompts. If you don’t get the intended result, try tweaking your prompt or giving ChatGPT further instructions. ChatGPT knows the context of previous questions you ask, so you can refine from there rather than starting over fresh every time.
For example, starting with “Explain how the solar system was made” will give a more detailed result with more paragraphs than “How was the solar system made,” even though both inquiries will give fairly detailed results. Take it a step further by giving ChatGPT more guidance about style or tone, saying “Explain how the solar system was made as a middle school teacher.”
You also have the option for more specific inputting requests for an essay with a specific number of paragraphs or a Wikipedia page. We got an extremely detailed result with the request “write a four-paragraph essay explaining Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” And remember, ChatGPT is great at making tweaks to previous answers, so you can always ask for more detail, ask it to rewrite something or ask further questions.
If there is enough information available, the generator will fulfill the commands with accurate details. Otherwise, there is potential for ChatGPT to begin filling in gaps with incorrect data. OpenAI notes that these instances are rare, but AI “hallucinations” certainly do happen. The company also notes that ChatGPT, which uses the GPT-3.5 LLM (large language model), currently has “limited knowledge of world events after 2021.” For more recent knowledge of the world, consider using another tool like Bing Chat.
Even so, you have the option to input queries continuously until you close your browser or reset the thread to clear your previous requests. These chats are then saved in conversations in the sidebar, even automatically naming the chat. From there, you can manage these chats, renaming or deleting them as needed. You can even “hide” specific chats if needed.
You also have the option to use ChatGPT in dark mode or light mode.
It’s not free for OpenAI to continue running it, of course. Initial estimates are currently that OpenAI spends around $3 million per month to continue running ChatGPT, which is around $100,000 daily. An April report indicated that the operation price is closer to $700,000 per day.
Learning the kinds of prompts and follow-up prompts that ChatGPT responds well to requires some experimentation though. Much like we’ve learned to get the information we want from traditional search engines, it can take some time to get the best results from ChatGPT. If you want to get started, we have a roundup of the best ChatGPT tips.
It really all depends on what you want out of it. To start out, try using it to write a template blog post, for example, or even blocks of code if you’re a programmer.
But the fun is in trying it out yourself. Whether you think ChatGPT is an amazing piece of tech or will lead to the destruction of the internet as we know it, it’s worth trying out for yourself to see just what it’s capable of.
You can’t ask anything, though. OpenAI has safeguards in place in order to “build a safe and beneficial artificial general intelligence.” That means any questions that are hateful, sexist, racist, or discriminatory in any way are generally off-limits.
What’s the future of ChatGPT and GPT-5?
There’s no doubt that the tech world has become obsessed with ChatGPT right now, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. ChatGPT-4, the next iteration of the model, has officially launched, though it’s currently only available for ChatGPT Plus. We do know, however, that Bing Chat is at least partially built on the GPT-4 language model, even if certain elements such as visual input aren’t available.
There were initial reports that GPT-5 is on the way and could finish training later this year, with some people claiming that it would achieve AGI (artificial general intelligence). That’s a big, controversial statement, but clearly, things are progressing at a rapid pace.
Since then, OpenAI has stated that GPT-5 is not on the timeline and is not currently planned. That being said, the next version, GPT-4.5, is currently training and may be available by later this year. OpenAI indicated that it may be done planning as early as September or October.
All that to say, if you think AI is a big deal now, just wait until it’s built into the most common applications that are used for work and school.
Who owns the copyright to content created by ChatGPT?
This is a question open to debate. Much of the conversation around copyright and AI is ongoing, with some saying generative AI is “stealing” the work of the content it was trained on. This has become increasingly contentious in the world of AI art. Companies like Adobe are finding ways around this by only training models on stock image libraries that already have proper artist credit and legal boundaries.
According to OpenAI, however, you have the right to reprint, sell, and merchandise anything that was created with ChatGPT or ChatGPT Plus. So, you’re not going to get sued by OpenAI.
The larger topic of copyright law regarding generative AI is still to be determined by various lawmakers and interpreters of the law, especially since copyright law as it currently stands technically only protects content created by human beings.