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Google faces a new threat from ChatGPT's 'iPhone Moment'

Its new plugins might make it the switchboard of the web, giving people another reason to stop using the search giant.

Just as we were getting used to the concept that ChatGPT could write emails and do research, OpenAI gave it new features that make it an even bigger danger to huge tech giants like Google. The new plugins for ChatGPT, which came out last week with not much fanfare, are a big step forward for technology.

In a nutshell, it is moving from just making text to executing actions on the web. This makes it the kind of strong virtual assistant that Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Apple Inc. have been attempting to make for years.

With ChatGPT's plugins, organizations may connect the tool to their own systems so that it can perform things like search proprietary databases or do operations like book a restaurant or write and run code. There are major problems that could come from this, but OpenAI has given the big tech companies a scary new front in the fight of trying to be the most advanced.
ChatGPT's 'iPhone Moment' Poses a New Threat to Google
Demos of the new system show that users have to go to the ChatGPT website in order for the plugins to work. For example, American ChatGPT users will soon be able to go to the tool's home page and choose the plugin for Klarna Bank AB, which helps thousands of brands including Nike Inc. and Gucci accept payments. Once they choose Klarna, they could ask ChatGPT for present ideas for their sister based on the products it sells. Because ChatGPT is based on a strong language model called GPT-4, users may give as much detail as they would to a real store worker. For example, they can say in detail that their sister loves movies and kayaking and is in their 30s. ChatGPT can then tell you what to do.

Klarna's chief marketing officer, David Sandstrom, told me, "We have a private database with a lot of products that ChatGPT can structure." "Instead of looking for things in our product database, you and I will talk to a shopping assistant."  

Technically, firms could have already done this, since OpenAI has been letting other parties use its language models since 2020. Edo Liberty, who used to be the head of Amazon's AI Labs and is now the CEO of Pinecone, an AI startup that works with OpenAI on its "knowledge retrieval" plugin, says that the plugin system makes this much easier. (Bloomberg has developed its own language model for finance, which is likely to compete with OpenAI's GPT-4.)  

Liberty added that the retrieval plugin, which is also used by Klarna, has been popular with software developers right away. One reason for the rush is that when more users use ChatGTP and find inaccuracies regarding specific concerns, corporations can link the program into their own data to stop it from "hallucinating" about their job.

If a researcher wants to quickly make a table of important climate change milestones, they can ask ChatGTP to do so using a United Nations plugin. This will give them a more reliable summary of the official milestones than if they asked ChatGPT (without the plugin) for the same information today. In the same way, Liberty says that automobile companies might include ChatGPT to their user manuals so that users may get rapid answers to inquiries regarding their cars.

Companies can also employ the same technology for their own purposes. For example, 200 wealth advisers at Morgan Stanley have been utilizing OpenAI's GPT-4 to answer inquiries from clients. Morgan Stanley told me that the new system makes it possible for them to give clients secret information about an asset class in seconds instead of half an hour.
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Consumers that utilize ChatGPT to search, book flights, and buy things will, of course, have the most to gain. Google has been able to do this for a long time through its Assistant and Search page. But as more businesses use ChatGPT and the technology grows more popular, it will start to act like a switchboard for the web and take more attention away from Google's own services.

Google's own ChatGPT competitor, Bard, does have an advantage in that it can connect to a wide range of popular Google applications, from Gmail to Google Docs, which are used by hundreds of millions of people. Imagine, for example, that when you wake up in the morning, Bard has already sent an email to a friend whose birthday you forgot, but it sounds really personal since the system has learned from your past encounters. This isn't something Google has said it will do, but it's the kind of interesting service it may offer with Bard in the future.

OpenAI doesn't have any popular products that it can add ChatGPT to, but it is a neutral third party that millions of businesses can use rapidly and with few restrictions. And it has proved that it can change far faster than Google.

Some people have called ChatGPT's plugins the tool's "iPhone moment." This refers to the moment when Apple first let third-party software developers build for the iPhone, which made the gadget very popular. In the end, every firm thought it was important to have an app. If OpenAI can keep up with the demand, ChatGPT could reach a similar milestone.  

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