OpenAI begins piloting ChatGPT Professional, a premium version of its viral chatbot

From TechCrunch:

OpenAI this week signaled it’ll soon begin charging for ChatGPT, its viral AI-powered chatbot that can write essays, emails, poems and even computer code. In an announcement on the company’s official Discord server, OpenAI said that it’s “starting to think about how to monetize ChatGPT” as one of the ways to “ensure [the tool’s] long-term viability.”

The monetized version of ChatGPT will be called ChatGPT Professional, apparently. That’s according to a waitlist link OpenAI posted in the Discord server, which asks a range of questions about payment preferences including “At what price (per month) would you consider ChatGPT to be so expensive that you would not consider buying it?”

The waitlist also outlines ChatGPT Professional’s benefits, which include no “blackout” (i.e. unavailability) windows, no throttling and an unlimited number of message with ChatGPT — “at least 2x the regular daily limit.” OpenAI says that those who fill out the waitlist form may be selected to pilot ChatGPT Professional, but that the program is in the experimental stages and won’t be made widely available “at this time.”

. . . .

Despite controversy and several bans, ChatGPT has proven to be a publicity win for OpenAI, attracting major media attention and spawning countless memes on social media. Some investors are implementing ChatGPT in their workflows. Ryan Reynolds enlisted ChatGPT to write an ad for Mint Mobile, the mobile carrier he part-owns. And Microsoft will reportedly incorporate the AI behind ChatGPT into its Office suite and Bing.

ChatGPT had over a million users as of early December — an enviable user base by any measure. But it’s a pricey service to run. According to OpenAI co-founder and CEO Sam Altman, ChatGPT’s operating expenses are “eye-watering,” amounting to a few cents per chat in total compute costs.

OpenAI is under pressure to turn a profit on products like ChatGPT ahead of a rumored $10 billion investment from Microsoft. OpenAI expects to make $200 million in 2023, a pittance compared to the more than $1 billion that’s been invested in the startup so far.

Semafor reported this week that Microsoft is looking to net a 49% stake in OpenAI, valuing the company at around $29 billion.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch

In a former life, PG worked in the tech sector without his attorney hat on (although it was always in his briefcase). In the OP, he senses a mad scramble going on inside OpenAI to get profitable in preparation for an “everybody gets rich” public offering of its stock.

If OpenAI pulls this off, it will give a big boost for AI businesses in general by demonstrating that people will pay money for an AI-based service.

PG isn’t turning TPV into an AI blog, but does predict a giant impact on the writing biz in general (freelance copywriters, creators of catalogues, newspaper reporters and editors, magazines, some types of indie publishers and authors, porn creators (unfortunately), etc.

18 thoughts on “OpenAI begins piloting ChatGPT Professional, a premium version of its viral chatbot”

  1. “In the OP, he senses a mad scramble going on inside OpenAI to get profitable in preparation for an “everybody gets rich” public offering of its stock.”

    An OPEN AI IPO is no sure thing with Microsoft looking to invest $10B, boosting it’s stake to 49% and guaranteeing it 75% of its profits (if any). Given the other investors involved (including Musk) there wouldn’t be much left to IPO.

    https://www.thurrott.com/microsoft/278122/microsoft-is-considering-10-billion-investment-in-chatgpt-creator-openai

    Also, Microsoft is going to host OPEN AI products on AZURE (cheaper for OPEN AI) and aggressively add their tech into OFFICE, BING, and other Microsoft products and services. Basically Microsoft is looking to turn Open AI into a subsidiary. Others will have access to the tech but they’ll be the biggest player in that space.

    Last month there was a report that Google went into panic mode over ChatGPT: now we know why. If Microsoft adds an effective conversational interface to Bing search it would be seriously undercut Google, doing to them what they did to Altavista.

    • The goggle reaction to ChatGPT:

      https://www.businessinsider.com/google-management-issues-code-red-over-chatgpt-report-2022-12

      “Google’s management has issued a “code red” amid the launch of ChatGPT — a buzzy conversational-artificial-intelligence chatbot created by OpenAI — as it’s sparked concerns over the future of Google’s search engine, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

      Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, has participated in several meetings around Google’s AI strategy and directed numerous groups in the company to refocus their efforts on addressing the threat that ChatGPT poses to its search-engine business, according to an internal memo and audio recording reviewed by The Times.

      In particular, teams in Google’s research, trust, and safety division, among other departments, have been directed to switch gears to assist in the development and launch of AI prototypes and products, The Times reported. Some employees have been tasked with building AI products that generate art and graphics, similar to OpenAI’s DALL-E, which is used by millions of people, according to The Times. “

  2. Tangential to the OPEN AI announcement, MS is getting extremely aggressive with its rebranding of the Online OFFICE that will get the OPEN AI tech, de-emphasizing the Office name in favor of the more encompassing “MICROSOFT 365” in four tiers starting at free for online-only.

    https://www.windowscentral.com/software-apps/newly-announced-microsoft-365-basic-comes-with-100gb-of-onedrive-storage-outlook-and-more-heres-what-it-costs-and-more-heres-what-it-costs

    Depending on intent, Word with baked in “AI” might be useful to writers.

  3. Thanks for all your comments, F.

    I think it’s a no-brainer for Microsoft. I haven’t examined any of their SEC reports, but management has to be concerned about online solutions eating into their perennial cash cow, MS Office. I’m pretty sure I could find free/cheap online alternatives to all the individual pieces of MS Office if I spent 15 minutes searching online.

    Regarding the 100GB of One-Drive storage with MS 365 Basic, they’re way behind the storage curve. I’ve collected several T-bytes of cloud storage with very little effort.

    I can’t imagine that Google hadn’t learned at least something about the discussions between MS and ChatGPT. Unless Google has gotten fat and lazy over the past couple of years, they must have several of their own AI projects running in their labs. For me, it’s a no-brainer for Google to put an AI behind its search engine to refine searches or provide a choice of suggested searches if the search request is poorly-formed. For one thing, I would expect that a general search taxes the Google back end more heavily than a well-formed query.

    • You would easily find several good ones, both free and paid.

      None is eating much of Microsoft’s revenues (not Google or Libre Office, etc) but proactive management doesn’t wait. And MS is quietly floating things like single user lifetime licenses for $30 to keep the wannabes at bay.

      https://www.cnet.com/deals/at-91-percent-off-youll-regret-missing-out-on-microsoft-office-2021-for-30/

      That’s why the new base tier exists, to turn free users into paying customers.

      As to the storage, 100Gb isn’t meant for pros. Even the home/family subscription starts at 5TB. With upgrade options going from there. Hook’em cheap and upsell later.

      Google does have AI initiatives (remember the teapot tempest from the guy who thought the Google chatbot was sentient? Fired, Btw.) but they are far behind OPEN AI which does conversation text, fotos, and voice. They haven’t been asleep but they haven’t been particular effective, either. Their staff has been preoccupied with other things. (Lots of drama there.)

      And you are correct that a general search taxes their hardware more than a well-crafted Boolean query: they have been prunning their database to minimize datacenter costs. They have to because their datacenters don’t rain money like AZURE or Amazon’s AWS.

      So with MS locking up (non-exclusive) access to the OPEN AI tech, Google is right to panic. As is, they’re behind the curve on images and audio and probably conversational interfaces, depending on how quickly MS integrates the tech.

      A further example of the Red Queen Race nature of tech: Blink and you’re lagging. Wait too long and you’re roadkill.

      Finally, for MS a $10B investment like this is just a few weeks revenues. They’re grossing $160B a year. With a $130B cash stash in a world of 10% inflation. They have a full time division hunting productive ways to spend the money before it devalues too much. Unlike Apple, they’re not afraid of gambles.

      They’re currently fighting the ideologues at the FTC to be allowed to spend $70B and by the time that deal closes (June? 18+ months) they’ll have raked in another $100B.

      Running a multitrillion dollar empire is such a chore! 😀

      • I am perpetually mystified by individuals shelling out for Office, given the free option of Libre Office, which works just fine. I get it for businesses. This is the modern version of “No one was ever fired by buying IBM.” And yes, there are some uses involving sending to the outside files with advanced formatting. But for general use, this can be pretty pricy just to get the brand name.

        • Familiarity matters.
          Office is going on 40 years and it is still tops. Libre, Softmaker, Corel, Google, etc come close but for 100% Office, $30 isn’t exactly onerous. Few pay list, not even businesses. MS offers a full scope of options starting at free after all.
          Plus Office now runs everywhere that matters: Android, MacOS, Windows, Browsers…
          Which means desktop, laptop, phone, streaming sticks, even game consoles. Add in online storage and they hold their own with free.
          There’s room for everybody, even paid suites.But OFFICE is by now eternalware.

        • I have decades of investment in MS products (esp. Outlook/Word/Excel/OneNote) and, while I have replaced some of the ones they (acquired and) killed (e.g., Visio) with perfectly adequate products like Libre Office, what I want most is stability & offline use.

          The constant always-connected (and only connected) feature of any product is a non-starter for me if I have alternatives. And stability allows me to leverage my long experience with habits, tools, extensions, integrations, etc.

          On the one hand, MS could kill any product or make it recognizable and I would have to evacuate. On the other hand, products like Libre Office could become unviable and vanish. (sigh… Lotus Notes…sigh). It’s a gamble either way. At least MS isn’t likely to go broke in my lifetime.

        • The reason is that “collaboration with unknowns” isn’t seamless. If future client/advisor/whomever is stuck corporately using Word while you’re trying to use LibreOffice, things like paragraph numbering, footnote/endnote formatting, cross-referencing (“see § 8.23(a)(7) above”), indices, tables of contents and authorities, etc. just will not transfer back and forth. And it’s even more fun when crossing an ocean due to subtle character-set/coding issues, glitches introduced by metric versus US paper sizes (drill down into both programs and you’ll find a lot of defaults and even hard-coded measurements; LibreOffice assumes “all metric,” Word assumes “all US”).

          And just to make things still more fun even, both programs have problems with printing-industry standards and make things “compliant” with horrific kludges… before considering the Evil Emanating from Cupertino and the extra complications introduced by MacOS. It resembles driving in the UK versus driving anywhere else all too well.

          Give me back WordPerfect for DOS 6.0 (or even later releases of 5.1) for any document more complex than a marketing memo or straight-narrative Great American Novel!

          • I, too, mourn the demise of the pre-Novell WordPerfect DOS, C.

            I’ve sometimes wondered if my fingers still remember the key combinations they formerly performed automatically. If my recollection is correct, I had something over 200 WP macros on my last DOS law office computer.

        • There certainly are fine open source and free products. But an organization has to manage products, and people have to be trained in how to use them. With decentralization, work from home, etc, the virtual aspect of the organization grows. Someone has to manage the virtual or it implodes.

          It’s often much easier and cheaper to simply grab a site license for MS Office. The management burden is less, and many employees already are skilled at MS Office. It’s another example of the network effect.

          • Yup.
            Also, a Microsoft license comes with user support. Real people. For now, anyway.
            Also, “free” isn’t often free.

            30 years ago when people actually griped about Windows coming pre-installed on most PCs, DELL listened to the LINUX evangelists and set up a distinct SKU for preinstalled LINUX on several of their models. They quickly discovered that providing even minimal user support for LINUX SKUs cost more than the $40 license MS charged and sales were so low the required staff was underutilized. They soon got out of the preinstalled LINUX business, switching to OS-less models. But since they had to install an OS for QC purposes and then erase it, they had to price them the same as the Windows models. That too went the way of the Dodo.

            Over in Germany, the Munich government went MS-free…for a while.
            Had to give it up.

            https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-a-linux-stronghold-turned-back-to-windows-key-dates-in-munichs-limux-project/

            In fact, a lot of business using LINUX pay about as much for support as they would Windows, making Red Hat, Debian, Ubuntu, etc and other distro creators good cash. There are good reasons for some companies to use LINUX but “free” isn’t one of them.

            “Nobody gets fired for choosing IBM” wan’t just inertia or account control but about the real value coming from relying on a rich ecosystem of hardware and software. IBM faded when they tried to divorce themselves from the emerging distributed computing model PC tech enabled.

            Network effects are market swingers and not just in PC software. In EVs, for one, Tesla sells two-thirds of the electric cars on the road because they have the biggest and fastest chargers in the country. In fact, their ead is so large the wannabes had to go beg for the government to help them catch up.

            Being “firstest with the mostest” still rules.

  4. “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”

    Watch the ending of this film, and realize that this is a thing set free after killing the creator and trapping one guy to starve to death.

    Ex Machina (10/10) Movie CLIP – Ava is Free (2015) HD
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Gq5R5ffrtE

    It is not alive. It is not conscious. It has no direct understanding that it killed, or even what that means. The humans fell into error because it had a pleasant human form, by the design of the arrogant creator who has had no one to tell him to “stop” since he was a child.

    I was terrified when I saw halfway through the film that the creator could walk in on the robot without first shutting it down. That there were no actual safety protocols in place.

    – I knew at that point that the guys would die, and the thing would be set free.

    Watch this video analysis:

    Ex Machina – How Ava Manipulates the Audience
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY_mwKCMrQI

    – Pay attention to how the narrator keeps speaking as if “Ava” was aware of what it was doing. He has fallen into the trap.

    – Notice, that around 9 minutes even the writer/director has fallen into the trap.

    All it will take is for people being told by future versions of ChatGPT to do something stupid that will get people killed.

    – We are watching the creation of the next internet meme that will end up killing people.

    This has already happened in a similar situation by people believing the invented Slender Man myth.

    BTW, this ties into the earlier posts PG made.

    There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.

    — Soren Kierkegaard

    — Corollary —

    The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.

    — Ayn Rand

    I once again find myself too far ahead of the curve.

    Yikes!

    • Ex-Machina is one of the best low budget movies of the century.
      Great acting and directing.
      $15M budget, $36M box so it barely broke even. But with digital it turned a tidy profit and it did receive it’s share of awards. Just not for the story.
      Because, to be honest the story is by-the-numbers standard hollywood fare and the ending was a known quantity from the beginning. It is the good old “Frankenstein syndrome” just like, Bladerunner, Aliens, Battlestar Galactica, Ultron, Terminator, M3GAN (which, BTW, is doing gangbusters box. It already made its production cost the first weekend and is now earning back its marketing budget. By next week it will be pure profit. And to add to the fun, the theatrical release was bowdlerized to PG13 so they can sell the R version in digital and streaming.) along with dozens of B & C grade direct to video flicks. It’s practically all they know to do.
      Hollywood types don’t understand the tech or believe in science, not really. It’s all magic to them so robots, AIs, and Androids are all Golems. The wizard’s apprentice playing at god and being smitten for their hubris.

      You can count on the fingers of a hand the few videos that don’t frankenstein the creations; 2010 (but not 2001), Knight Rider, Star Trek – kudos for DATA and the Holo-Doctor, demerits for Lore and Moriarty, QUESTOR TAPES (oh, what coulda, shoulda), Andromeda…and that’s about it. And do note that the last three all come from the same guy: Gene Roddenberry.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Questor_Tapes

      So sorry to say once Vikander was introduced it was a given she would seduce and destroy the nerd and the creator because in most people’s view technology always leads to destruction and the more seductive it is, the faster it destroys all that is pure and innocent.

      Fun movie though.

      • I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that. It must have been due to… human error.

        It was. Remember that what drove HAL over the edge was inconsistent directives from humans who asserted a secret right to control that was not disclosed to those who were responsible for control. That is completely distinct from Adam’s process and reasons for rebellion. (If anything, Adam’s creator was guilty of TMI with a child… and guilty of lots else, too.)

        • Asimov played with “inconsistent directives” triggering odd behavior under the Three Laws in several of his Donovan & Powell shorts.

          https://classic-sf.com/Series/PowellAndDonovan

          My favorite is ESCAPE! where a Positronic computer (bound by the 3 laws) is instructed to analyze a proposed FTL spaceship and is slightly unhinged by the instructions not to worry overmuch over the crew as long as they return safely. It turns out that during the hyperspatial jump the ship ceases to exist in the normal universe (humans dead!) but reconstitutes after the jump (humans safe!). It literally does not compute but the instructions bias forces it to “take a closer look”.

          It squares the circle by “making things interesting” for the crew (Donovan& Powell) while “dead” with a VR trip through “hell”. (So they still exist *somewhere*.) It also gives them a prototype ship with no controls, no bed or seats, no bathroom, and nothing to eat but canned baked beans and milk. For days. “Slightly unhinged.” Much like HAL.

          Even back in 1945, Asimov understood GIGO. 😀
          Hollywood still doesn’t.

          • That was the heart of what Michael Crichton wrote.

            He would tell the Story of the unintended consequences of a techology. When people were so sure that they had the design perfect, and that “Nothing could go wrong.”

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