The year that changed technology forever: ChatGPT turns one

The expansion exposed the versatility of large language models from being more than just chatbots and opened new horizons for AI applications​​. File image.

The expansion exposed the versatility of large language models from being more than just chatbots and opened new horizons for AI applications​​. File image.

Published Dec 5, 2023


By Joel Moodley

On November 30, 2022, the tech world witnessed the birth of ChatGPT, an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI that has, in a span of a year, revolutionised our interaction with technology.

Initially launched as a research preview, ChatGPT distinguished itself by engaging in conversational dialogue with context awareness, a step beyond the directive responses of its predecessors​​.

Up until then, this sort of technology was not available to the public at large.

Within just two months of its release, ChatGPT saw more than 100 million monthly users signing up for the service, outpacing even social media giants like Facebook and Instagram. Its appeal lay in its user-friendly interface and its ability to conduct convincingly real conversations, a leap forward in human-AI interaction​​​​.

This marked a shift in generative AI from niche technical tools previously used in industries to mainstream applications, highlighting a significant user experience breakthrough.

One of the key developments in ChatGPT’s first year was the launch of the GPT-4 model in March 2023, essentially an upgrade on the initial GPT-3.5 model that was released at the launch.

This new model showcased improved accuracy, reducing the issue of “hallucinations” – instances where ChatGPT would simply make up plausible but incorrect information if it did not have relevant data.

GPT-4 also introduced multimodal capabilities, allowing it to understand text and images, and comprehend a wider range of languages​​.

But OpenAI didn’t just enhance ChatGPT’s internal capabilities; it also expanded its functionality and accessibility. The launch of ChatGPT Plus, a premium subscription plan, and the ChatGPT API enabled broader and more efficient use of the chatbot’s capabilities.

The advancements allowed developers to create diverse applications, ranging from customisable chatbots to sophisticated data analysis tools​​.

It opened an entirely new world where existing technologies could also be integrated into OpenAI’s systems, greatly enhancing AI input, automation and productivity.

Another leap in functionality was the introduction of ChatGPT Plugins in March 2023. The plugins empowered ChatGPT to access real-time data from the internet and interact with third-party services. Users could use ChatGPT to search for and book flights, make restaurant reservations and run complex computations.

The expansion exposed the versatility of large language models from being more than just chatbots and opened new horizons for AI applications​​.

In addition to its technical capabilities, ChatGPT’s societal impact has been profound. It has spurred discussions about the ethical implications of AI, including concerns about misinformation, bias and the need for regulatory frameworks.

Whilst the discussions are crucial as we navigate the complex intersection of AI, ethics and society, we must acknowledge that such concerns are nothing new in the tech industry.

The same discussions arose in the early 1990s when the internet first became mainstream and was made available to the public. It is through the discussions that regulations are created and implemented, which is a necessity.

As ChatGPT turns one, its clear that this is just the beginning. While this first year has been a journey of unprecedented growth and innovation, the future promises even more advanced multimodal AI systems that could integrate with augmented reality and virtual reality, creating immersive experiences and redefining our interaction with technology.

Moreover, the pursuit of artificial general intelligence by OpenAI and others suggests a future where AI could perform complex intellectual tasks, surpassing current capabilities​​ but I will write more on this in another article.

As we continue to grow with and adapt new, even more advanced AI technologies, we must be reminded to ensure that the new tools are used ethically and for the greater good of humanity and society.

AI has immense potential to transform the world as we know it but as the French author Voltaire once said: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

With more than 20 years of experience as a techpreneur and digital solutions strategist, Joel Moodley harbours a deep passion for all things tech related, including the evolving world of AI.