Posted by Jim Craner on May 22, 2023

Hey, everyone! So let's chat about ChatGPT. It's a handy little tool, right? But it does have a couple of quirks that can be annoying. First off, you may have heard of the "training cutoff". In simple terms, it means ChatGPT knows a bunch of stuff...up until the autumn of 2021. After that? It's kinda like it slept through the past year and a half and missed everything post-2021. Another big bummer: it can't browse the web either, so it's stuck with its 2021 knowledge.

diagram showing a smiley face asking a question to a box labeled ChatGPT

Now, the good news: The folks at OpenAI (the creators of ChatGPT) have been cooking up some cool upgrades for their premium ChatGPT Plus package. Get ready for web browsing and plugins.

"Web browsing" is all about letting ChatGPT scoop up info from the internet during your conversation. With this, it can pull in real-time data from the web and weave that into your chat.

diagram showing a smiley face asking a question to a box labeled ChatGPT. The ChatGPT box is connected by arrows to a cloud labeled Web.

"Plugins" are a bit like add-ons or upgrades. They let you "plug in" other tools, websites, and software into your convo with ChatGPT. Imagine the possibilities! Lots of developers are working on these, which allow you to have ChatGPT make travel reservations, connect to company databases, integrate with YouTube, or pretty much anything else that you can think of.

diagram showing a smiley face asking a question to a box labeled ChatGPT. The ChatGPT box is connected by an arrow to a cylinder labeled "Your Data"

These upgrades have been available only to beta testers, with only a few lucky users testing them out. But get ready, because they're rolling out to all Plus users very soon. Now, let me paint a picture of how this web browsing feature could come in handy. Picture this: A few months back, before ChatGPT got its browsing powers, a colleague of mine wanted to use it to plan a winter road trip through the Rocky Mountains. But here's the twist: she wanted to plan her route based on up-to-the-minute local weather conditions. Old ChatGPT, being stuck with 2021 data, was a bit clueless about today's weather. But with its shiny new browsing capabilities, it's a piece of cake.

Chat screen, question: Planning a road trip between Idaho Falls and Petaluma. What weather should I expect. Answer panel includes three notifications reading "Used Wather Report" before a typical chat answer reading The weather for your road trip from Idaho Falls Idaho to Petaluma CA is generally clear. In Idaho Falls (ICAO code KIDA) the current META weather report indicates clear skies with a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius around 79 degrees Fahrenheit. The wind is coming from the south at 7 knots. The atmospheric pressure is normal. This is a good indication that the weather will be favorable for your..."

So for all you ChatGPT Plus users out there, keep an eye out for these new features.

Of course, we couldn't try using plugins without trying to develop our own plugin!  OpenAI provides decent documentation and a quickstart kit for any other library developers out there working on AI integration!

We were able to quickly put together a demo plugin that allows ChatGPT to request and play stories directly from our LibraryCall Storytime Commons collection of kids audio stories!  Pretty neat being able to play these directly within the chat interface... I can definitely see this being a useful feature for the library bots of the future!

chat window where user asks "tell me another story" and answer panel includes a notification reading "Used Storytime commons Plugin (Unverified)" then "I found another story for you. This one is called "The Thankful tree." Let's listen to it together. Click here to listen to the story."  Below that is an image of the cover of The Thankful tree featuring a stylized image of a tree.



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