OpenAI gives ChatGPT access to the entire internet

3 min read
OpenAI gives ChatGPT access to the entire internet

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OpenAI’s ChatGPT has been an undoubtedly powerful and interesting tool since its release in November 2022, but it has been limited with the domain of its knowledge — which only included information up to September 2021. But that changes today.

OpenAI just announced on X (formerly Twitter) that ChatGPT “can now browse the internet to provide you with current and authoritative information, complete with direct links to sources,” thanks to an integration with Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

The company said the capability was now available to ChatGPT Plus subscribers and ChatGPT Enterprise users, and could be chosen with the drop-down menu under the GPT-4 selector at the top of the application.

It actually marks a return to web browsing for ChatGPT. Back in March, when OpenAI debuted ChatGPT third-party plugins, it also announced two of its own plugins — Code Interpreter (which has since been renamed “Advanced Data Analysis” and allows ChatGPT to accept uploaded files), and “Browsing” which used the Microsoft Bing API and a text-based browser to search the web and summarize information for users, complete with superscript citations that the user could hover over and click to visit the source website.


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OpenAI’s ChatGPT web browsing feature introduced in March 2023. Credit: OpenAI

Yet, within a few days, OpenAI disabled the browsing feature as users were able to deploy it to bypass the paywalls of leading news publishers. It appears the feature has returned with those sites excluded, because, according to OpenAI, the ChatGPT browsing feature now recognizes the “robots.txt” code that website owners can add to exclude Google and other web crawlers from searching and indexing their content.

Still, the return of web browsing of public, non-paywalled sites was heralded by the company’s leadership on their personal X accounts, with CEO Sam Altman posting “we are so back,” and CTO Mira Murati echoing the sentiment.

It should also be noted that Microsoft’s Bing Chat, introduced in February, is powered by “a new, next-generation OpenAI large language model that is more powerful than ChatGPT” and has since then included the ability to browse the web with ChatGPT-style functionality and citations as well.

So what are the differences, if any, between using Bing Chat powered by OpenAI and using ChatGPT browsing with Bing Chat? Sources with knowledge of the situation told VentureBeat that the ChatGPT interface allows users to take advantage of browsing without leaving the ChatGPT interface and its many other features.

The new ChatGPT browsing capabilities come just two days after OpenAI also announced the ability for ChatGPT to scan and analyze images and conduct conversations over audio, including analyzing a user’s uploaded audio and speaking back to the user in a generated voice. Last week, OpenAI further announced its new image generation model DALL-E 3, which it said had been rewritten to take advantage of ChatGPT’s natural language processing and conversational skills.

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