As the AI race unfolds, OpenAI keeps the lead and unveils GPT-4

Why it matters: OpenAI launched GPT-4 this week, an update to its popular language model and technology that aims to improve precision and is designed to act as an underlying engine for chatbots, search engines, online tutors, and more. GPT-4 is now available to paid subscribers and there’s a waitlist to use the model via API. Furthermore, the AI race is on, with “AI startups” raising funds like there is no tomorrow and big tech companies like Google scrambling to make it known that they are not so far behind.

GPT-4 has been in development for most of the past year, after GPT-3 was quietly released in mid 2020 and then ChatGPT took the world by storm late last year. The recent rise in popularity of ChatGPT and everything AI has been meteoric, to say the least. The AI platform in January reached 100 million users after just two months of public availability. OpenAI used a fine-tuned model for ChatGPT which they called GPT-3.5.

Now GPT-4 improves upon that, and it’s now a multimodal large language model (MLLM), which means it can respond to both text and images. GPT-4 learns by analyzing huge amounts of data from the internet and has many applications for businesses, including automating the work of paralegals, and moderators of content on the internet. However, as with its predecessor, it has some human-like limitations that may still present a challenge. The language model can ace some standardized tests, but still go wrong on simpler queries.

Despite this, OpenAI’s GPT-4 has already attracted interest from companies such as Morgan Stanley, Salesforce, Duolingo, and online education firm Khan Academy. OpenAI and Microsoft already have a close relationship, with the software giant having invested over $13 billion in the organization in the last few years, getting them exclusive rights to license OpenAI’s technology. Case in point, if you have used Bing Chat in the past few weeks, you have literally been beta testing GPT-4 ahead of the official release.

OpenAI acknowledges that GPT-4 remains flawed and limited, however the update represents a significant step forward in its capabilities. The model is more creative than before and is capable of learning patterns of use and text style to match the desired output. GPT-4 can understand images, use them as inputs, describe them as text, or also contextualize based on them.

Although OpenAI is not interested in explaining how GPT-4 really differs or how it’s improved internally to work better, it is measurably more capable as it can have longer conversations, taking in about eight times more text than ChatGPT, from around 3,000 words in the previous version to processing up to 25,000 words in its latest revision.

GPT-4 is now available to users who pay for ChatGPT Plus (or via Bing Chat), while API access is being granted to developers on OpenAI’s waitlist.

Reactions have been immediate, check out some of the more interesting applications and related discussions around this announcement for further reference:

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