What are ChatGPT plugins and how do you access them?

ChatGPT plugins
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OpenAI has just announced a new feature in ChatGPT that will substantially enhance the functionalities of ChatGPT and change how we use it and what we use it for. It now allows plugins inside ChatGPT. The ChatGPT plugins will be gradually rolled out—soon, hopefully.

Plugins will supercharge ChatGPT and unlock many more use cases while filling the gaps in ChatGPT, making it a much more useful tool than it currently is.

What are ChatGPT plugins?

ChatGPT plugins are software components and applications that can be added to ChatGPT to extend its functionality and enhance its capabilities. ChatGPT plugins can be added to ChatGPT to perform a specific task or add a new feature to ChatGPT.

ChatGPT plugins are, to put it in common parlance, like apps on a phone. Just as you can download apps onto your phone to add new features or capabilities, you can add plugins to ChatGPT from the Plugin store to make it more useful and tailor it according to your needs.

ChatGPT plugins store with Wolfram Alpha ChatGPT plugin

They will certainly mitigate some of the shortcomings of ChatPGT—of which there are many. 

ChatGPT has no knowledge of current events—its trained data predating September 2021; and so of information later than the cut-off date, it admits it doesn’t know, or worse, it fabricates them. And it being fundamentally a language model is poor in mathematics and reasoning. And it doesn’t accept voice input or respond in speech. ChatGPT plugins will be able to not only patch these limitations but amplify the capabilities of ChatGPT.

Demonstration of plugin in ChatGPT

What can ChatGPT plugins do?

ChatGPT plugins will add more functionality to ChatGPT. Because language models on which ChatGPT is based are trained from public and licensed data, it comes with plenty of intrinsic limitations. ChatGPT plugins will solve some of the limitations and enhance existing capabilities.

They will serve as the “eyes and ears” of ChatGPT, giving it access to up-to-date information; and allowing it to access data that are personal, specific, and thus making ChatGPT a more personal chatbot than the general chatbot that it is.

Plugins will not just add eyes and ears to ChatGPT so that it accepts audio-visual input, they can also serve as its tongue giving it the ability to talk back.

Plugins like the Wolfram Alpha ChatGPT plugin will increase its mathematical capabilities, while those like Instacart and Klarna Shopping will enable users to query and compare prices of groceries and goods, and allow them to order from within ChatGPT.

Available ChatGPT plugins

The potential of ChatGPT plugins is virtually limitless. As more developers get on board and publish their plugins, more functionality will be added—provided OpenAI is able to woo developers, which, given the number of users it has, should not be a hurdle. It is at this stage hard to predict the projectile of  ChatGPT plugins but the early signs are promising.

How to access ChatGPT plugins

OpenAI has only teased the release of the plugin feature but has not made it publicly available. It says that it is beginning to gradually enable existing plugins for ChatGPT users, beginning with ChatGPT Plus subscribers, who are also given priority access to GPT-4.

These plugins include two proprietary plugins and a few third-party plugins, like Expedia for ChatGPT and Wolfram Alpha ChatGPT plugins.

If you are not one of those select few users who can access ChatGPT plugins right now, then you can request access by filling in a waitlist form.

Go to the ChatGPT plugins waitlist page and fill in the form. Then click “Join waitlist”. All you’ve to do now is, well, wait and hope that you’ll be one among the small number of people to whom ChatGPT plugins are given access.

ChatGPT plugins waitlist form

After you’ve been given access to ChatGPT plugins, you can get plugins from the Plugin store. From there you’ll be able to install plugins of your choice; and also host your own plugins.

There are a few must-have plugins like Wolfram Alpha’s ChatGPT and WebGPT that you’ll be able to get from the Plugin store.

Along with giving access to plugins to users, OpenAI is also rolling out the ability for developers to create their own plugins for ChatGPT. If you’re interested in building plugins yourself, then there is a comprehensive documentation on how you can build one.

If, as is more than likely, you are not given access to ChatGPT plugins and have to wait for them to be rolled out for everyone to use, then there are extensions for your browser that you use to enhance the functionality of ChatGPT, such as connecting ChatGPT to the internet to get the up-to-date information, copy and bookmark chat, and add voice functionality, among other things.

Benefits of ChatGPT plugins

ChatGPT is good at several things; but it is also terrible at plenty of things. Plugins in ChatGPT will not only address some of these limitations but also enhance its existing capabilities.

Here are a few benefits that plugins can add to ChatGPT:

  1. Extensibility: ChatGPT plugins will allow users to extend the functionality of ChatGPT without any technical expertise. Up until now, if anybody wanted to enhance the functionality of ChatGPT, they could do so only by building their own chatbots with OpenAI’s API or installing extensions in the browser. Now anyone can install plugins and add new features and capabilities according to their needs.
  2. Customisation: Besides extended functionality, users will be able to customise their ChatGPT as they want it to be and to behave. Plugins will allow users to customise it to meet their specific needs and preferences.
  3. Improved accuracy: Plugins can, to some extent, reduce the propensity of ChatGPT to make non-factual statements, though they cannot entirely eliminate its susceptibility to hallucinations. Language models as good as they are do not have all the facts and will always be limited by the amount of data they are trained on. Plugins should be able to fill some of the gaps.
  4. Time-saving: Plugins will allow users to quickly find what they’re looking for from within the chat without having to switch between apps or sites. They will also be able to reduce the time it takes to fine-tune prompts to elicit the best answers as plugins will handle nuanced prompts with programmed instructions.

Besides these, there are other benefits of plugins in ChatGPT, such as cost-effectiveness. Most, if not all, ChatGPT plugins, hopefully, will be available for free. This can be an effective solution for individuals and businesses that do not have the budget or the capability to build their own chatbots. And those who do have the resource and expertise can build their own to give specific capabilities to ChatGPT for their particular needs and requirements.

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