The point on what ChatGPT is, and what it is not:

- "Flashy" -

The launch of this chatbot (conversational robot) at the end of November 2022 may go down in history as a turning point in artificial intelligence (AI).

But skeptical observers see ChatGPT above all as a brilliant marketing operation, which has helped the Californian company OpenAI to raise billions of dollars from Microsoft.

"From a scientific point of view, this is not a particularly interesting advance," said Yann LeCun, head of AI at Meta (Facebook, Instagram) and professor at New York University.

This "flashy demo" does not really answer questions from Internet users, he explained during an interview with the Big Technology Podcast, it "generates words one after another", without being capable of constructing a vision of the world.

The chatbot is never more than a computer program based on algorithms and fed with mountains of data.

“When working with these generative AI models, you have to remember that they are slot machines, not calculators,” warned Haomiao Huang of Kleiner Perkins, a Silicon Valley investment fund.

"Every time you ask a question and press the button, you get an answer that can be wonderful...or not at all. The problem is that chess is extremely unpredictable," he said. detailed in an editorial published on the specialized site Ars Technica.

- "Familiar" -

ChatGPT is based on GPT3, a three-year-old AI model.

It is its interface, which gives the impression of talking to a person, which has impressed and won over large sections of the general public.

"It's familiar, it's like a conversation, and it's as easy as a Google search," says Jason Davis, a professor at Syracuse University.

But this success demonstrates "the real power of this tool", he adds.

Sam Altman, the boss of OpenAI, said he was taken aback by the enthusiasm generated by ChatGPT.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on July 6, 2022 in Sun Valley, Idaho © Kevin Dietsch / gETTY/AFP/Archives

“Given the economic scope (of this technology), it would be better to go more slowly,” he remarked in an interview with the specialized newsletter StrictlyVC.

“People, institutions and elected officials need to familiarize themselves with the tool, to think about the implications,” he stressed.

OpenAI on Wednesday announced the launch of a paid version of ChatGPT: $20 per month for priority, better and faster service.

The company is also working on software for detecting texts written by humans or with AI.


Lawyers, engineers, journalists: many professionals wonder about the potential of generative AI to disrupt their profession.

High school and university teachers are on the front line, facing the students who are already using it.

Secondary and university teachers are on the front line, facing students who are already using it © Yann Schreiber / AFP/Archives

In the tech industry, ChatGPT could give a facelift to Microsoft's outdated brand image compared to Google, Apple and Meta.

"Take Microsoft Word. No need to write an article, I just have to give him instructions so that he writes it", remarks Jason Davis.

The program could make the Bing search engine and Office office suite more intuitive and powerful.

Until now, however, big companies have been careful not to go too fast, lest their tools be used for bad purposes – to generate credible disinformation on a large scale, for example.

According to Meta's Yann LeCun, ChatGPT has become the star of chatbots because tech giants are afraid to launch a platform that "speaks nonsense", or worse: "You have a lot to lose if you are laughed at and the benefits are not obvious".

Last August, Meta released its own prototype chatbot, BlenderBot 3. When questioned by journalists, he repeated comments relating to misinformation and anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Generative AI is in the so-called “oversized expectations” phase of the new technology cycle defined by Gartner, which is a benchmark in the industry.

Then comes "the trough of disillusion", before the concrete uses become clear and the technology enters a more stable phase.

For now, ChatGPT is not an author.

"As with driver assistance systems, (the chatbot) just helps with writing," says Yann LeCun.

© 2023 AFP