ChatGPT can now connect to the internet, book holidays, and find restaurants

·3-min read
ChatGPT is an AI or artificial intelligence program
ChatGPT is an AI or artificial intelligence program

ChatGPT, the viral chatbot that launched last December, has just received a massive update that could turn it into an all-in-one lifestyle management app.

The bot can now perform a bunch of additional tasks, including browsing the internet to fetch up-to-date information; helping to book flights and hotels on Expedia and Kayak; searching and comparing prices on thousands of online shops; and providing restaurant recommendations and reservations through OpenTable.

For now, the upgrade is limited to select users, including those paying for ChatGPT Plus. But, the chatbot’s creator OpenAI is promising to make it widely available over time.

The gradual rollout will allow the company to get ahead of any safety challenges posed by the update, OpenAI said. Earlier this week, ChatGPT leaked the conversation histories of some users, forcing OpenAI to issue a fix for the bug.

All told, ChatGPT can currently access 12 services by supporting their plug-ins. These are basically small pieces of software that can be added to a larger program to extend its functionality, and give it new features or capabilities.

In addition to Expedia, Kayak and OpenTable, the other ChatGPT plugins include: workplace chat app Slack; computation data service Wolfram; workflow automation tool Zapier; US-based grocery delivery service Instacart; retail price comparison tool Klarna Shopping; Shopify’s shopping and package tracking service Shop; a GPT-4-powered AI for parents called Milo; global policy and market intelligence provider FiscalNote; and AI-powered language tutor Speak.

More broadly, the move could open the floodgates for ChatGPT plugins. This could allow the chatbot to access countless popular websites and platforms, from Uber to Shein to Tesco to Spotify, and basically any other business that is game. Notably, OpenAI is already inviting developers to request access to create their own plugins.

For its part, OpenAI has made a custom web browser plugin for ChatGPT that means it can access up-to-date information. Previously, the bot could provide answers relating to events that occurred up until only 2021. That meant it couldn’t tell you who won Best Film at this year’s Oscars or when King Charles’s coronation will take place.

Plugins could also adress the issue of “hallucinations,” OpenAI said. This is when AI systems make up answers or spew misinformation, including outright lies about how they were created.

“By integrating explicit access to external data — such as up-to-date information online, code-based calculations, or custom plugin-retrieved information— language models can strengthen their responses with evidence-based references,” OpenAI wrote in its announcement.

It’s probably no coincidence that OpenAI introduced the web browsing capability on the heels of Google’s expansion of its own chatbot, Bard. The ChatGPT rival can fetch answers on contemporary events by plugging into Google’s cavernous search engine.