Active Stocks
Fri May 24 2024 15:59:27
  1. Tata Steel share price
  2. 174.80 -0.37%
  1. NTPC share price
  2. 374.85 0.68%
  1. State Bank Of India share price
  2. 828.60 -0.45%
  1. ITC share price
  2. 436.10 -1.16%
  1. Power Grid Corporation Of India share price
  2. 318.50 -0.39%
Business News/ Opinion / Columns/  What ChatGPT does will be watched with bated breath

What ChatGPT does will be watched with bated breath

No one could have predicted the ways in which this new approach to search would transform the internet—and, in turn, our lives

Photo: Pixabay (Pixabay)Premium
Photo: Pixabay (Pixabay)

As I sat down to write the first article of the year, I tried to figure out what the year holds for us. This year, I couldn’t help but feel that we are on the verge of momentous change.

The last time I felt this way was when I first tried out a new search engine that came to be called Google. At the time, it didn’t have a name and the only reason I’d heard of it was because it was being referred to in hushed whispers in academic circles that intersected with mine. But no sooner had I completed my first vanity search (as one does), it was evident to me that this technology was far ahead of anything that existed at the time.

No one could have predicted the ways in which this new approach to search would transform the internet—and, in turn, our lives. By making it reliably easy to find information online, it liberated us from only creating content that could be found. This led to the largest spontaneous explosion of creativity that this planet has ever witnessed, along with all the benefits and down sides that came with it. Mobile phones put the power of that information into our pockets, allowing us to do on the fly what would have been impossible scant years ago. But perhaps most importantly, it taught us to target advertisements narrowly so they could be served only to those most likely to have any need for what was being advertised, which finally identified a business model for the internet that had been providing services to users for free.

Through all this, Google remained the pre-eminent search experience—far and away better than anything its competitors could create. Such was its dominance in the field that it became the favourite target of competition authorities around the world (including India) for disproportionate influence wielded in a relevant market.

Late last year, I along with others on the internet got to experience first-hand the remarkable conversational AI that is OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT. As I perfected my prompts by asking it questions to test the limits of its output, I felt the same frisson of excitement that I had felt over 20 years ago when I was last in the presence of a revolutionary technology.

Could this thing I was playing with be the next transformational technology?

Ask ChatGPT anything and it will give you an answer—crunching information that it has collected from all over the internet and processing it into comprehensible answers, typed out one word at a time, in clear easy-to-understand text. If Google’s breakthrough was accurately pointing us in the direction of websites that had the information we were searching for, ChatGPT extracts that information from wherever it exists on the internet and presents it to us in language that we can all understand. It not only does the hard work of finding the information we need, but goes one step further, compiling it into a form we can readily use.

If this feels like a transformational shift in search, the applications to which it is already being put will give you a sense of how much further it can go. I’ve seen programmers use ChatGPT to debug code and laypersons use it to write programs based on plain language specifications. I’ve seen students use it to prepare their class assignments and have myself used it to write my weekly articles. If you search the internet for the various ways you can use ChatGPT to make money, you will be bombarded with ideas—from using it to create monetizable blogposts to creating videos from scratch.

Disruption typically happens when you least expect it, and often comes from a completely unanticipated direction. Even those actively looking for shifts in technology can be blinded to the changes taking place around them because of how their economic compulsions are aligned. ChatGPT is imperfectly aligned with the targeted advertising revenue model and, as a result, with how most internet businesses are set up. Unlike internet businesses designed around search or which automatically generate a never-ending newsfeed of content, ChatGPT is not designed to point to specific websites; instead, it summarizes information from millions of websites to provide a useable summary. As a result, it is singularly incompatible with the advertising business model on which almost the entirety of internet businesses are based.

OpenAI has always monetized its products based on use. It made GPT3 available for anyone to use through an API that charges a usage fee from anyone who uses its large language models to generate content. The pricing is transparent—based on the number of words generated or the nature of the computation carried out. While ChatGPT is free as of now, there is every likelihood that it too will eventually charge for use, based on the same transparent per-word pricing model that all of OpenAI’s other large language models charge. When that happens, not only will we see the disruption of regular search, but also of the fundamental advertisement-based business model of the internet. After all, this is what happened to streaming music and no one batted an eyelid.

The moment ChatGPT was made public, Google allegedly declared an internal Code Red as the company tried to fully appreciate the threat that the new technology posed. If ever there is a signal that a new technology is going to make an impact, it is when its very existence gives a dominant incumbent the heebie-jeebies. Which, more than anything else, is why I’ll be watching this space with bated breath.

Rahul Matthan is a partner at Trilegal and also has a podcast by the name Ex Machina. His Twitter handle is @matthan

You are on Mint! India's #1 news destination (Source: Press Gazette). To learn more about our business coverage and market insights Click Here!

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Published: 03 Jan 2023, 11:10 PM IST
Next Story footLogo
Recommended For You