Sam Altman, co-founder and chief executive officer of OpenAI Inc., speaks during TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 in San Francisco, California, on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
For his day job, Tobias Zwingmann is the managing partner of RAPYD.AI, a German consulting firm that helps clients make use of artificial intelligence. On the side, Zwingmann teaches online courses on AI.
Lately, Zwingmann has been generating lecture notes using ChatGPT, a new chatbot that’s quickly become the latest fad in tech. Zwingmann said he recently asked ChatGPT to explain the mechanisms and workings of a machine learning technology known as a DBSCAN, which is short for density-based spatial clustering of applications with noise, because he is too “lazy to write it all down.”
“I went up and said, ‘OK, tell me a detailed step by step of how the DBSCAN algorithm works,’ and it gave me that step by step,” Zwingmann said.
After a little bit of polishing and editing, Zwingmann said the lecture notes were in good shape.
“This took me like 30 minutes, and before that I would have spent the whole day,” Zwingmann said. “I can’t neglect that this has proven to be hugely beneficial.”
ChatGPT debuted in late November and has quickly turned into a viral sensation, with people tweeting questions, such as “Are NFTs dead,” and requests like, “Tell a funny joke about the tax risks of international remote work.” They include a screenshot of ChatGPT’s response, which often — but not always — makes sense.
The technology was developed by San Francisco-based OpenAI, a research company led by Sam Altman and backed by Microsoft, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Khosla Ventures. ChatGPT automatically generates text based on written prompts in a fashion that’s much more advanced and creative than the chatbots of Silicon Valley’s past.
In a year that’s turned into a dud for the technology sector, with mass layoffs, wrecked stock prices and crypto catastrophes dominating the headlines, ChatGPT has served as a reminder that innovation is still happening.
Tech executives and venture capitalists have gushed about it on Twitter, some even comparing it to Apple’s debut of the iPhone in 2007. Five days after OpenAI released ChatGPT, Altman said that the chat research tool “crossed 1 million users!”
Back in 2016, tech giants like Facebook, Google and Microsoft were trumpeting digital assistants as the next evolution of human and computer interaction. They boasted of the potential for chatbots to order Uber rides, buy plane tickets and answer questions in a life-like manner.
Six years later, progress has been slow. The majority of chatbots that people interact with are still relatively primitive, only capable of answering rudimentary questions on corporate help desk pages or minimally helping frustrated customers understand why their cable bills are so high.
But with early ChatGPT adopters demonstrating the technology’s ability to carry a conversation through multiple queries in addition to generating software code, the world