ChatGPT’s Birthday Special: Celebrating 1 Year of Changing the World

It’s official; as of today, ChatGPT is one year old. In that short time period, generative AI has rapidly emerged as a dominant solution category in the AI arms race.

It’s changing the world: In less than nine months after launch, ChatGPT’s creators OpenAI say 80% of Fortune 500 companies have adopted ChatGPT in some form. At the company’s first developer conference in November 2023, CEO Sam Altman announced that the tool had reached 100 million weekly active users

Monthly Growth of ChatGPT Visits

To celebrate ChatGPT’s first year, we delve into the tool’s history and examine its already explosive legacy.

Key Highlights

  • In its first year, ChatGPT was used by 80% of Fortune 500 companies and reached 100 million weekly users, showcasing its wide-reaching impact.
  • ChatGPT, leveraging advanced language models like GPT-3.5 and InstructGPT, marked a significant leap in natural language processing and AI capabilities.
  • 2023 updates, including real-time internet access and vision tools in GPT-4, greatly enhanced ChatGPT’s functionality and applications.
  • ChatGPT drew mixed reactions from the industry due to concerns over security, misinformation, and ethics, highlighting the complex nature of AI advancements.
  • Despite many emerging rivals, ChatGPT remains the top generative AI tool, with future expansions like the GPT Store expected to expand its influence.

The History of ChatGPT

OpenAI first released a demo of ChatGPT on November 30, 2022, after which the chatbot quickly grew viral, reaching over a million users in just five days.

The tool itself wasn’t entirely new, built on a large language model (LLM) that had already been evolving in previous years. 

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OpenAI had already launched GPT 3.5 earlier that year, as well as a fine-tuned version of the language model called InstructGPT in January 2022, which was itself an updated version of the GPT-3 language model initially launched in 2020. 

How Does ChatGPT Work?

While GPT-3 achieved some promising early press coverage in 2020 due to its ability to create content and articles on demand, this was nothing compared to the wildfire of interest that ChatGPT generated following its release. 

ChatGPT rapidly grew in popularity due to its ability to answer user questions with very detailed and concise natural language output. Its language creation capabilities were sophisticated enough for some to argue that the chatbot exhibited general intelligence

In any case, OpenAI was quick to maintain its product momentum, releasing several key enhancements to ChatGPT in the latter half of 2023. 

Perhaps the most significant announcement came in September 2023 when the organization announced that ChatGPT could connect to the internet in real time. This meant it was no longer restricted to training data taken from before September 2021. 

The next most significant release came with the release of GPT-4 with vision tools this November. This introduced to the market a multimodal version of GPT-4, which not only supported image inputs but could also generate images on demand. 

ChatGPT 3 vs ChatGPT4

What’s ChatGPT’s Legacy So Far?

ChatGPT is the chatbot that brought generative AI to the masses, with Pew Research finding that 58% of adults are familiar with the tool.

How users have received ChatGPT has been mixed between those excited about experimenting with new use cases and those more anxious about information and mass automation. 

For instance, Gartner suggested that 68% of executives believe that the benefits of generative AI outweigh the risks. In the meantime, MalwareBytes found that 81% of respondents familiar with ChatGPT were concerned about possible security and safety risks, with 63% not trusting the information it produces. 

Ultimately, each of these groups has a valid perspective. It is essential to consider the promising use cases presented by large language models alongside the more negative side of the technology, such as their tendency to hallucinate information, assist threat actors in cyber attacks, and spread misinformation and harmful content

That being said, ChatGPT deserves immense credit for being the solution that finally encapsulated the public’s interest in AI within a single accessible solution. 

The Road to 100m Users

The Competitors of ChatGPT

Of course, it’s not just ChatGPT that’s played a critical role in defining the generative AI market. A wide range of competitors, including Google, Microsoft, Anthropic, and Meta, have all played a key role in establishing the current landscape of generative AI tools. 

Arguably, OpenAI’s biggest competitor is Google, which launched Google Bard in March 2023, an AI-driven chatbot connected to the internet that supports 137 billion parameters.

READ MORE: Who Are the Competitors of ChatGPT? 

Upon launch, Bard was marketed as more of a research assistant. Now that ChatGPT is connected to the internet, Google has looked to fall back on its proprietary data. For example, in September 2023, the organization launched a YouTube extension to enable the chatbot to answer questions about videos on the site.  

Another critical competitor of OpenAI is Anthropic, with the Claude 2 chatbot released in March 2023. Claude 2 aims to differentiate itself from other products due to its emphasis on user safety and its tendency to produce less harmful outputs than other vendors. 

Other notable competitors include Microsoft’s Bing Chat internet assistant, which uses GPT-4, and Meta’s Llama 2 model, an open source LLM that supports between 7 to 70 billion parameters. 

READ MORE: What is the Role of Parameters in AI?

The Dark Side of ChatGPT

As an emerging technology, both generative AI and ChatGPT haven’t been shy of controversy. From day one, the tendency of large language models to hallucinate or make up information, facts, and figures has created lots of anxiety

At the same time, the chatbot has come under sharp criticism for generating hateful and discriminatory content. These concerns have been amplified by OpenAI’s black box approach to AI development, which provides little transparency over bias in its training data. 

This has led to a scenario where OpenAI has been playing catchup to address these concerns. For example, the vendor now actively warns users that ChatGPT can make mistakes and encourages them to double-check the output. It has implemented red teaming processes to test its models and identify new ways to eliminate harmful content. Despite these measures, the risks of harmful outputs remain inevitable. 

There is also the issue of chatbots using web scraping to collect training data, which has led to OpenAI being sued multiple times. It’s worth noting that OpenAI has attempted to address this with the launch of GPTBot, which allows websites to opt out of having their data scraped. 

How to Create ChatGPT Prompts

READ MORE: How to Write AI Prompts in ChatGPT

The Bottom Line

As ChatGPT turns one year old today, we look forward to seeing how this solution will evolve in the future.

For now, it remains a powerful force multiplier, but with the release of customizable GPTs and the launch of the highly anticipated GPT Store later this year, it is likely that ChatGPT’s reach will only continue to expand over the long term.

But for the moment, happy birthday ChatGPT! It’s one of those rare times when the phrase “paradigm shift” is genuinely earned.

You’ve put a dent into the universe, and we look forward to seeing what comes next.

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Tim Keary

Since January 2017, Tim Keary has been a freelance technology writer and reporter, covering enterprise technology and information security.