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Tech Insight : ChatGPT Unleashed To Access The Web Via Plugins

Conversational chatbot ChatGPT’s creators OpenAI have announced that ChatGPT will now be able to use plugins to improve its capabilities and outputs.

Plugins Coming To ChatGPT 

It’s been announced that  OpenAI will be “gradually” enabling ChatGPT to use plugins for certain groups of ChatGPT users to begin with, starting with ChatGPT Plus subscribers. It’s also beginning to roll out the ability for developers to create their own plugins and enable developers using OpenAI models to integrate plugins into their own applications beyond ChatGPT.

Browse The Web To Access New Information + Python

Crucially, ChatGPT will be able to use a web browsing plugin so it can access the Internet and read information (using the Bing search API) which will enable it to expand the amount of content it can discuss, and use “fresh information from the present day”. 

Also, OpenAI says that it has a plugin for Python code execution (a code interpreter plugin), which it says is “amazing for data science use-cases”. Python code is a set of instructions or commands written in the Python programming language, which is widely used for various applications, including web development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and scientific computing. Normally Python code can be written in a text editor or an integrated development environment (IDE) and saved with a .py extension.


OpenAI says that although language models like ChatGPT are impressive they are currently limited by the fact that the only information they can learn from is their training data which can be out-of-date, and that this data is one-size-fits-all across applications. This is because ChatGPT was only trained on data up until September 2021, so can’t retrieve information based on the latest news, data, and developments or proprietary sources.

Also, the only thing language models can do “out-of-the-box” is emitting text which can give useful instructions. However, to follow the instructions, users need ChatGPT to have another process in place.

How Plugins Can Help 

OpenAI says that plugins can, therefore, act as the “eyes and ears” for language models and give them access to information that is more recent, personal, and specific than the data that was used to train them.

Examples of how certain plugins will be used to improve the outputs of ChatGPT for users include:

– A web browser plugin, hosted by OpenAI, which allows ChatGPT to read current information from the Internet. This means that users can generate up-to-date outputs. Also, the browser plugin shows which websites were visited and cites its sources in ChatGPT’s responses, thereby giving transparency and helping users to verify the accuracy of the model’s responses.

– An open-source retrieval plugin to enable ChatGPT to access personal or organisational information sources (with permission). This means that ChatGPT users will be able to obtain the most relevant document snippets and data sources, such as files, notes, emails, or public documentation.

– Third-party plugins, created by developers for ChatGPT, e.g. Expedia, FiscalNote, Instacart, KAYAK, Klarna, Milo, OpenTable, Shopify, Slack, Speak, Wolfram, and Zapier. This will enable access to third-party services, widening the scope of ChatGPT even further.

Safety Considered 

OpenAI has made it very clear in its announcement about the impending introduction of plugins that security has been a major consideration. For example, OpenAI says it has performed “red-teaming exercises” to reveal potential risks from plugin integrations. OpenAI also says it’s using the findings from these exercises to inform safety-by-design mitigations that restrict risky plugin behaviours and improve transparency. Safety considerations are also reported to be behind the decision to gradually deploy access to plugins rather than introduce them to all user groups immediately.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Integrating plugins is another huge step forward in that it will add even more value to ChatGPT by enabling it to overcome one of its more obvious limitations – the fact that it was only trained up until September 2021. This has meant that it hasn’t been able to access and use up-to-date information, until now. By integrating explicit access to external data via plugins, such as up-to-date information online, code-based calculations, or custom plugin-retrieved information, this will enable users to get even more value from ChatGPT. It also opens up more opportunities for developers and for those using the chatbot for data and science purposes. Coupled with the introduction of GPT-4, the integration of plugins is the next step forward in the rapid rise of ChatGPT becoming one of the world’s most advanced and widely use language models that offers almost endless opportunities to businesses and is proving to be a significant time and money-saver.