As the hottest consumer technology on the scene, generative AI has had a lot of notable developments: the AI arms race continues to heat up, as Microsoft and Google keep one-upping each other on AI integration in search and productivity software, with the battle lines being drawn and alliances taking shape. Deep-faked images went viral and prompted more criticism and calls for AI regulation and even a pause on the development of generative AI. And much ink has been spilled on the fears of AI replacing human workers, especially knowledge workers, through automation.
Amid all the breakneck developments, two announcements jumped out as significant milestones in AI’s growth as a consumer technology: First, on March 14, 2023, OpenAI released GPT-4, both as an API and as a feature of ChatGPT Plus. The API allows brands to easily incorporate ChatGPT’s conversational AI into their consumer touchpoints, opening the floodgate for building more Q&A-style experiences. Companies like Instacart, Snap, and Shopify all jumped at the opportunity to integrate an advanced chatbot feature powered by ChatGPT into their respective apps.
Currently, generative AI got even closer to becoming the next “aggregator platform,” as analyst Ben Thompson puts it, with OpenAI’s release of its new pilot versions of ChatGPT plugins. Through these plugins, many of which are created by category-leading services such as Expedia, Instacart, Kayak, Klarna, and OpenTable, the knowledge base of ChatGPT is now extended into travel, shopping, dining and more, all with the tantalizing potential of being a lead generator for these services.
Together, these two moves not only signaled OpenAI’s leading position in the current AI arms race, it also underscored just how quickly the commercialization of generative AI is happening. Three months ago, barely anyone outside the tech in-crowd knew what “generative AI” or “ChatGPT” means; today, just about everyone seems to have an opinion on it, and every CMO is trying to figure out how to apply generative AI to their own marketing efforts.