In an announcement on Thursday, OpenAI told the world that ChatGPT will soon have "eyes and ears." Plugins are about to be rolled out, and with them will come a radical expansion of ChatGPT's capabilities.
OpenAI will soon have proprietary plugins, and there will also be third-party plugins. If this doesn't sound exciting, here's an example: ChatGPT sucks at math because its brain is just a language model. If there were a calculator plugin, it wouldn't have to suck at math anymore. Existing plugins appear to allow ChatGPT to browse the internet for information not in its model, go shopping, and more.
There's going to be an iTunes-like "Plugin Store," through which a user can obtain (or possibly purchase) third-party plugins. A tantalizing demo video shows how, once plugins are installed, the necessity to use one of the plugins can be detected by the model itself depending on the nature of the prompt. In its announcement, OpenAI paints a picture of a world in which you can convert your to-do list into a prompt, and plugins can automate both the decision-making and execution of many of your errands.
But no, this world is not quite here. You probably can't try ChatGPT plugins just yet.
How to try ChatGPT plugins right now
ChatGPT plugins are currently only available in the form of a "limited alpha" release for developers and insiders. There's a waitlist page for those who want access but don't yet have it. Subscribing to OpenAI's paid service, ChatGPT Plus might help, since OpenAI says it's "prioritizing a small number of developers and ChatGPT Plus users."
What is it like using ChatGPT's plugins?
If you're a machine learning engineer with access to the "limited alpha," let's face it: you're not reading this article. If you're just a bystander with more than a passing interest in AI, you might be interested to know how plugins will work.
If that sounds like you, and you've got about forty minutes, you can do a lot worse than this explanation from YouTuber James Briggs. Briggs is seemingly talking to an audience of developers here, but even if you don't speak that language, the video is jargon-light and gives a pretty detailed overview of ChatGPT's retrieval plugin, which is already open source, and looks fairly easy to use.
If any of the things in this video are confusing, there may be a certain chatbot that might be able to help.