Leading artificial intelligence firm OpenAI announced today that users of its ChatGPT generative AI tool will again be able to generate answers to prompts that search the web for the latest information. It‘s a revival of a powerful feature that was removed from the service in July because it was being used to bypass paywalled content.
The search capability will be handled through the Bing search engine in a partnership with Microsoft, which is a major investor in OpenAI. The announcement comes on the same day social media giant Meta unveiled a number of "AI experiences," also incorporating Bing search.
OpenAI noted the relaunch reflects "useful feedback" from its first attempt.
"Since the original launch of browsing in May, we received useful feedback," OpenAI explained on Twitter. "Updates include following robots.txt and identifying user agents so sites can control how ChatGPT interacts with them."
One of the key advantages of web search capabilities is that it gives AI systems—which typically work with a finite dataset collected up through a specific date—the effective awareness of the present.
"ChatGPT can now browse the internet to provide you with current and authoritative information, complete with direct links to sources. It is no longer limited to data before September 2021," OpenAI explained. "Browsing is particularly useful for tasks that require up-to-date information, such as helping you with technical research, trying to choose a bike, or planning a vacation."
For now, however, the feature is restricted to paying customers.
"Browsing is available to Plus and Enterprise users today, and we’ll expand to all users soon," the company said.
To enable the feature, OpenAI instructs users to select "GPT-4" and then "Browse with Bing." However, many users are reporting on Twitter that they are unable to activate the search function.
According to user replies to OpenAI‘s Twitter post, web search is currently available only via the web interface, not the mobile apps, and only as part of the "September 27" version release.
Decrypt had asked OpenAI about the Bing search feature on Monday, but a company spokesperson said at the time, "We don’t have anything to share on this front right now."
Editor‘s note: this is a developing story and will be updated periodically to reflect the latest information.