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What exactly is ChatGPT?

Good Question: What is ChatGPT?
Good Question: What is ChatGPT? 03:10

MINNEAPOLIS – Since its public launch in November, ChatGPT has taken the world by storm. 

The free artificial intelligence chatbot has attracted the attention of giant companies like Microsoft, who will reportedly cut a potential $10 billion deal with the company who owns ChatGPT, OpenAI.

"What's unique about this is that it presents information in a way that a human would," says Gene Munster, a managing partner for Loup Ventures, a technology research and investment firm. "It essentially has the ability to think."

Artificial intelligence research has been happening for decades, but only recently has it gotten good enough that OpenAI released its ChatGPT chatbot to the public via an easy-to-use website. People must register with an account, but can then can enter a query into its system. ChatGPT will produce text of an answer within about 5 seconds.

"In this case, ChatGPT is making decisions on its own, which is very different from how things have been crafted over the past 15 years," says Munster.

ChatGPT, which stands for "chat generative pre-trained transformer," can offer queries on everything from complicated math problems to parenting advice to writing computer code. It can write a term paper or book report. It can write an explanation of thermodynamics on a 2nd grade level.

While testing out the program, Heather Brown asked ChatGPT to write a "country song about the Vikings winning the Super Bowl." Here's what it came up with in less than 30 seconds:

We've waited for this moment, it's been too long

But, now we're here, and we're gonna be strong

We'll fight till the end, we'll play with our hearts

We'll be victorious, and we'll leave our mark.

Minnesota Vikings, Super Bowl champs

We did it, we made it, it's in our hands

We raise that trophy high for all to see

Minnesota Vikings, the team to be!

From the frozen tundra to the bright lights of the city

We'll show the world, we're a team that's not to be pitied

We'll play with honor, and we'll play with pride

We'll leave it on the field until the final whistle blows

Minnesota Vikings, Super Bowl champs

We did it, we made it, it's in our hands

We raise that trophy high for all to see

Minnesota Vikings, the team to be!

Purple and gold, our colors flying high

We've got the talent, we've got the drive

We'll take the field, and give it our all

We're gonna make Minnesota proud, we're gonna make 'em tall

Recently, WCCO reported on a story about Minnesota start-up that made an online course created entirely from using artificial intelligence. 

"If you shift your thinking from, 'This is gonna replace me, no one's gonna have jobs,' and start shifting it to, 'How can I use this to make myself more productive?' And you're on the early wave of that, you will find success before anyone else," said JazzJune founder and CEO Alex Londo.

Munster says the technology isn't perfect and gets the information correct between 80-90% of the time. He expects that to get closer to 99% over the next few years.

"One of the biggest pros here is that ChatGPT can free us to focus on more higher level problems," Munster says. "In terms of the cons, it's pretty obvious, it has the power to change our ability to think critically."

ChatGPT is a topic that's been widely discussed in many Minnesota schools over the past few months. 

Colleges and universities are talking about to balance prevent plagiarism with how to incorporate this new technology into their curriculum.

Among schools districts, there are many different approaches. Both St. Paul Public Schools and Robbinsdale Schools have banned ChatGPT from being used on school computers.

Within the Anoka-Hennepin School District, they are recognizing the potential for disruption and asking questions in the same way they did when calculators and internet-enabled smartphones were introduced.

"The potential of the calculator was mostly obvious; it could do simple computation at first and eventually evolved to incorporate graphing and higher-level equations. What exactly ChatGPT can do is not quite as obvious, so I am sure the disruptive part will be more challenging," Anoka-Hennepin School District's Chief Technology and Information Officer Joel VerDuin said in a statement. "On the other hand, I hope that ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence technologies may be leveraged in a way that students find better success at being prepared for life outside our schools. Technology or not, it is our core mission to prepare them for success."

There are some limitations on ChatGPT for safety and security reasons. The program won't give financial advice, like stock tips. It won't teach people who to make dangerous things, like bombs. It's information only goes up to 2021, so people are out of luck when it comes to very current events.

"It's huge," says Munster. "It's hard to understand how big ChatGPT can be."

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