Almost Timely News, March 5, 2023: ChatGPT Levels Up With an API

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Almost Timely News: ChatGPT Levels Up With an API (2023-03-05)

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What’s On My Mind: ChatGPT Levels Up With an API

This week, the big move happened. What am I talking about? Everyone’s favorite discussion topic of the day, ChatGPT, leveled up in a huge way with the debut of its API and model, GPT-3.5-Turbo. And I promise, I’m not trying to make this the all-ChatGPT-all-the-time newsletter, it’s just… this topic is one lots of you have replied to ask questions about, and this week’s news is a big deal.

For those unfamiliar, an API, or application programming interface, is a way for one piece of software to talk to another in a standardized, highly scalable way. If you’ve ever used a service like If This Then That or Zapier, you’ve interacted with APIs by connecting one piece of software to another. Here’s why this is a big deal.

Up until now, every use case of ChatGPT has been with a human inputting a prompt of some kind and receiving a result in the now familiar chat interface. This is how 100% of us have interacted with ChatGPT because this has been the ONLY way to interact with it since its debut. Every use case you’ve ever heard of has been done through the chat-based interface.

The API changes that by allowing other machines to talk to ChatGPT now instead of humans, or for humans, through their own code, to programmatically interact with ChatGPT. What does that mean? Why is that a big deal?

Let’s say you use this style of prompt:

“You will act as a blogging professional. You have expertise in content marketing, content creation, and blogging, especially corporate blogging. You have subject matter expertise in the architecture industry, especially LEED-compliant buildings. Your first task is to write a blog post about the importance of solar panels on new construction designs and projects as a path towards sustainability goals, especially in areas where the power grid is unstable or unreliable.”

We are all familiar with this style of prompt and the outputs it generates. Here’s the problem: you still have to type that in, and you still have to process the output. How long would it take you to write ten blog posts this way? Still substantially less time than it would for you to write them manually, to be sure, but it’s not exactly a one-button, one-click solution.

Now suppose you had a piece of software that, instead of you having to copy/paste both the prompt and the results, could instead simply ask ChatGPT over and over again. Suppose you had a piece of custom software that would repeatedly ask ChatGPT that prompt or variations of that prompt ten times. How much faster would that be? Now what if it were a hundred times? A thousand times?

You see where this is going. Everything that’s happened up until now with ChatGPT has basically been letting the kids – us, the humans – play in the playground. With the debut of the API comes power and scale – and the avalanche of change that folks have been predicting.

Why? Think about it. No one with any common sense is about to hire out a farm of a hundred people to copy/paste into ChatGPT all day. That’s just a waste – but up until now, if you wanted to scale its usage, that’s how you would have had to do it. With the API, software can talk to ChatGPT hundreds, or even thousands of times per minute and leverage the full power of what software is best at: tasks at scale.

How do we know this is a big deal? In the end, it comes down to cost, and this is where OpenAI has come out swinging. In the past two years, hundreds of companies and thousands of apps have launched using the OpenAI GPT-3 model as the back end model, from chat-based guides to content marketing companies like CopyAI, JasperAI, etc. However, GPT-3’s pricing was relatively high – US0.02 per thousand tokens. OpenAI defines a token as a single word, so this article up until this point is 613 tokens, which would cost less than a penny. That’s fine for small use, but imagine the costs to scale to thousands of users.

However, many companies have done so successfully and have built large content marketing operations on the older model.

OpenAI’s new pricing on the GPT-3.5-Turbo model that powers ChatGPT was the shocker for many of us who follow the industry. Ordinarily, your premier product comes with a premier price tag…

… and the price of GPT-3.5-Turbo is US0.002 per thousand tokens.

Yes, that’s 1/10th the cost of the earlier premier model. Every company built on GPT-3 just got a 90% price break AND a better piece of software. Every entrepreneur that was thinking about how to build a business model on the GPT-3 family of models now has the opportunity to do so at 1/10th the cost it would have been just 3 days ago.

Trust Insights has been using the GPT-3 model for some code we work with for clients. This week, we’ll be switching over to GPT-3.5-Turbo. The implementation to change from one to the other isn’t exact, but it’s close enough that it should only take a couple of hours in total to migrate and test the code. That’s how straightforward it is.

Every use case, every example, every prompt that’s been shared up until this point has been by humans talking to the machines. This now opens the door for machines to talk to the machines at the same level of fidelity, with the same level of amazing generation and feedback, but at massive scale.

What should you take from this? If you’ve already got a portfolio of prompts you’ve generated that work well (and you really should, if you are a ChatGPT user), now is the time to evaluate those prompts to see which ones make the most sense to convert into real software. Then talk to your developer resources to scale those prompts you hand-crafted into the instructions for software at large.

If you haven’t been using ChatGPT in your industry, but a competitor has, your life is about to get more difficult because that competitor, assuming their use case isn’t trivial, is about to leap ahead in productivity and scale. You have very little time to catch up to a competitor that is using the software in a meaningful way.

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See you next week,

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


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