OpenAI is significantly expanding ChatGPT’s capabilities, allowing it to browse the web and do other things.

Significantly extend OpenAI ChatGPT Internet and more browsing capabilities / ChatGPT now supports plugins that allow chatbots to use new sources of information, including the web and third-party sites such as Expedia and Instacart.

OpenAI adds plugin support for ChatGPT, an update that greatly expands the capabilities of chatbots and allows them to access real-time data from the web for the first time. So far, ChatGPT has been limited to only being able to extract information from research data that will end in 2021.

The OpenAI plugin will allow bots to not only browse the web, but also interact with specific websites, making the system a versatile interface for all kinds of services and sites, they say. In an announcement post, the company says these other services are like the “eyes and ears” of ChatGPT. In a demo video (below), someone uses ChatGPT to find a recipe and then orders ingredients from Instacart. ChatGPT automatically loads the ingredient list into the shopping service and redirects the user to the site to complete the order.

OpenAI says it will provide access to the plugin for “a small number of users.” Initially, there are 11 plugins for third-party sites, including Expedia, OpenTable, Kayak, Klarna Shopping, and Zapier. OpenAI also provides its own code interpretation plugin and its own plugin called “Browse” which allows ChatGPT to fetch information from the internet. As an example of what a browser plugin can do, the company shows someone asking how the box office sales of this year’s Oscar-winning films compare to recent films, and the bot shows which source they should consult before answering . This is something that ChatGPT has not been able to achieve before.

This experimental feature is clearly similar to Microsoft’s version of Bing with a custom technology for broadcasting GPT-4 (ChatGPT’s default language model) information from the Internet. However, the OpenAI plugin does more than extract real-time information. It can also interface with APIs that can “do things on behalf of users,” according to the company’s documentation. This can make it even more powerful. Bing can tell you about flights and hotels and help you plan your vacation, but ChatGPT can help you book. There are some obvious safety and security concerns when ChatGPT allows users to perform actions instead of simply providing information.

After OpenAI’s experiment with GPT-4, experts expressed concern about it. For example, when run by a human tester, the bot can generate instructions to hire a TaskRabbit employee to write an unanswerable CAPTCHA. OpenAI says it considered the risks posed by these plugins and implemented “a number of security measures” from the start, including limiting the plugin’s availability to a very small number of people. The company’s blog post states that it will “initially prioritize a small number of ChatGPT Plus developers and users” to access the plugin, and encourages you to sign up for a waiting list here.