ChatGPT: What you need to know about the most talked about AI tool

ChatGPT website displayed on a phone screen and OpenAI logo
ChatGPT is trained on a massive data set, and has been described as one of the most powerful language processing models ever created. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

ChatGPT has been headline news across mass media outlets since the beginning of the year, with users of the artificial intelligence tool showcasing the diverse ways it can replicate human tasks, from producing sophisticated computer code to writing academic papers.

Since its inception the application has racked up over a million users, a lightning-fast leap into mass adoption that took social media platform Facebook (META) 10 months and streaming platform Netflix (NFLX) three years to match.

Recent reports claim that Microsoft (MSFT) has placed $10bn (£8.2bn) into OpenAI, the firm behind ChatGPT, a deal that has been touted as a game changer for the future of artificial intelligence and internet search engines.

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OpenAI is now valued at $29bn and the recent Microsoft investment would give the tech company 75% of OpenAI profits until it recoups $10bn.

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Under the deal Microsoft will receive a 49% stake in OpenAI when they have fully recouped the $10bn from its profits.

But what is ChatGPT and what is its connection to Microsoft and OpenAI?

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is trained on a massive data set, and has been described as one of the most powerful language processing models ever created.

It is a highly articulate artificial intelligence application which can write computer code as well as different types of text from haiku to jokes, corporate emails, business plans, academic essays and even piece of original fiction in the style of any writer you want, from Joyce and Dostoyevsky, to Shakespeare.

What sets it apart from previous AI chat tools, is how it can respond to user prompts in natural-sounding language, responses that could easily be mistaken for a chat with a real human.

ChatGPT uses a combination of natural language processing, machine learning, and graph theory to measure a chatbot's ability to understand and respond accurately to customer inquiries.

The application was launched by the San Francisco-based artificial intelligence research laboratory OpenAI in November 2022.

What is OpenAI?

OpenAI is a non-profit artificial intelligence research company founded in 2015 by Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and former Y Combinator president Sam Altman.

Silicon Valley tech experts like Peter Thiel and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman are also behind the innovative research company.

The company's website said that its mission is to develop friendly artificial general intelligence (AGI) and ensure that it is used safely and beneficially.

The OpenAI blog states that, “OpenAI is a non-profit artificial intelligence research company.

“It’s mission is to ensure artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity."

OpenAI works on projects related to natural language processing, reinforcement learning, unsupervised learning, generative models, and robotics.

Microsoft's Bing search engine already utilises an older version of GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) to provide automatic search suggestions for users.

GPT was integrated with Bing in the wake of a $1bn investment in the California startup in 2019.

Microsoft's 2019 investment in OpenAI

The deal between Microsoft and OpenAI was a multi-year partnership in which Microsoft invested $1bn in OpenAI.

The partnership aims to advance artificial intelligence capabilities, democratise AI, and create artificial general intelligence (AGI).

AGI is the name given to an artificial intelligence system that can perform any task that a human being is capable of, and not just focused specific tasks.

OpenAI and Microsoft plan to work together to develop new Azure AI supercomputing technologies and will create a "Microsoft + OpenAI" Azure AI platform for developers and businesses.

Threat to Google's search business

The New York Times reported that Google is so alarmed by ChatGPT’s capabilities that it issued a “code red” to ensure the survival of the company’s search business.

Israeli cyber-security company Checkpoint says the technology can create phishing emails capable of carrying a malicious payload.

Researchers at Checkpoint used the AI technology, which boasts that it can generate anything from wedding speeches to academic essays, to create a sophisticated phishing email.

The said that ChatGPT "lowers the bar for code generation" which means it can help less-skilled wouldbe hackers launch cyber-attacks.