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OpenAI’s GPT-4o Model Gives ChatGPT a Snappy, Flirty Upgrade

May 13, 2024 2:35 PM

OpenAI’s GPT-4o Model Gives ChatGPT a Snappy, Flirty Upgrade

Prepare for ChatGPT to get more emotional. OpenAI demonstrated upgrades that make the chatbot capable of snappier conversations and showed the AI helper picking up on and expressing emotional cues.

Photo of presenters at the OpenAI's event

OpenAI via WIRED Staff

Since it launched in late 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT has generally fended off suggestions that it has emotions or desires by responding that it’s just an artificial intelligence model. Upgrades announced by OpenAI Monday showed the company apparently trying to make the chatbot act more like a human.

In demos, the new version of ChatGPT was capable of rapid-fire, natural voice conversations, picked up on emotional cues, and displayed simulated emotional reactions of its own.

During a livestream from the company’s headquarters in San Francisco on Monday, Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, announced that ChatGPT will be powered by a new, more powerful AI model called GPT-4o. The model will be available to both free and paid users of ChatGPT via a new desktop app as well as the existing mobile app and web version.

Murati said the GPT-4o model allows ChatGPT to respond more rapidly to voice, image, and video input than OpenAI’s previous technology. In demos, she and other OpenAI employees had fast-flowing conversations with ChatGPT, which answered using a liveley and expressive female-sounding voice and nimbly kept up when interrupted.

ChatGPT adopted different emotional tones during the conversation and at times responded as if it were experiencing feelings of its own. When an OpenAI employee said he had been talking about how “useful and amazing” the chatbot is, it responded flirtatiously, gushing “Oh stop it, you’re making me blush.”

“This just feels so magical, and that’s wonderful,” Murati said, adding, “over the next few weeks we’ll be rolling out these capabilities to everyone.”

At another point in the demo, ChatGPT responded to OpenAI researcher Barret Zoph’s greeting by asking, “How can I brighten your day today?” When Zoph asked the chatbot to look at a selfie of him and say what emotions he was showing, ChatGPT responded, “I’ll put my emotional detective hat on” and warmly said, “It looks like you’re feeling pretty happy and cheerful … whatever’s going on, it looks like you’re in a great mood.”

In a blog post Monday, OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, highlighted the significance of the new interface. “It feels like AI from the movies; and it’s still a bit surprising to me that it’s real,” Altman wrote. “Getting to human-level response times and expressiveness turns out to be a big change.”

OpenAI’s tweaks may make ChatGPT more engaging and popular, but they may also change the way users think about the program.

ChatGPT became a sensation last year thanks to its remarkable ability to answer questions and generate text with what often resembles humanlike understanding. But OpenAI and leading competitors such as Google have so far generally sought to limit the anthropomorphism of their chatbots, by refusing to answer certain types of questions and having models remind users that they are mere computer programs.

Despite that caution, the sometimes lifelike repartee of the latest chatbots can tap into users’ emotions. Some companies have adapted the technology to maximize this phenomenon, offering AI companions that role-play different human emotions or are offered as AI girlfriends and boyfriends. Some AI researchers have warned that the long-term implications of deploying programs that mimic and respond to emotions could be unwelcome.


Photo of interface of GPT Chat 4
OpenAI via WIRED Staff

A team at Google DeepMind last month released a research paper exploring the ethical risks that may arise as AI assistants become more capable. Among other things, the researchers warn that such assistants could become highly persuasive and addictive. Last year, a British man pleaded guilty to breaching security at Windsor Castle, saying that a chatbot he had exchanged more than 5,000 messages with had encouraged him to do so.

In addition to snappier conversational skills, OpenAI says its GPT-4o model makes ChatGPT better able to make sense of images, including photos and charts, and can store more information about a user in its “memory” to provide a more personalized experience.

OpenAI says it will make GPT-4o available to users of the free version of ChatGPT, essentially upgrading all users to its most capable AI model.

Google is expected to unveil new AI technologies of its own at the search company’s I/O developer conference starting Tuesday. Competition between companies working on AI seems unlikely to cool down. At the end of today’s OpenAI event, Murati promised that the company would soon be offering more announcements, “on our progress towards the next big thing.”

Will Knight is a senior writer for WIRED, covering artificial intelligence. He writes the Fast Forward newsletter that explores how advances in AI and other emerging technology are set to change our lives—sign up here. He was previously a senior editor at MIT Technology Review, where he wrote about fundamental… Read more
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