OpenAI ChatGPT Enhances User Experience with Browsing and Plugin Integration

OpenAI introduces new features for ChatGPT Plus.

This journalist has always been puzzled by ChatGPT's "knowledge cutoff date" established in September 2021, beyond which the chatbot appears to be unaware of current events. Although OpenAI has cited reasons for the cutoff, such as preventing misinformation, maintaining data consistency, and practical development, this limitation seems to hinder its utility. Many users, me included, want access to the most up-to-date information.

OpenAI recently introduced new features for ChatGPT Plus (the paid version), including browsing and plugin beta capabilities. But it's important to exercise caution when allowing ChatGPT to explore the internet independently, considering factors like security and compliance.

The introduction of ChatGPT plugins addresses these concerns by providing a controlled form of web access. OpenAI defines plugins as "tools designed with safety as a core principle, enabling ChatGPT to access current information, perform computations, and utilize third-party services." This enables ChatGPT to connect to external data sources and interact with services not originally included in its base knowledge.

Accessing real-time information aligns with my specific use case, and I rely on the tool called WebPilot for this purpose.

According to its GitHub repository, an official release of WebPilot, currently in beta, is forthcoming. WebPilot is described as a free, open-source "Copilot for the web" that enables users to engage in free-form conversations with web pages or engage in automatic interactions with other users. Unlike ChatGPT, it eliminates the need for manual switching between pages or copying and pasting.

As of my last update, WebPilot is developed based on the gpt-3.5-turbo model, which incorporates common prompts with shortcut commands, requests API, and displays results to manipulate selected text on webpages.

It's worth noting that my information might not be the latest, but I use WebPilot in conjunction with the GPT-4 large language model (LLM) from OpenAI, the company responsible for addressing concerns related to the development of potentially dangerous AI systems.

While WebPilot is offered up to ChatGPT Plus users in the OpenAI plugin store, it's also available as a Chrome browser extension and Edge browser add-on.

An OpenAI Community post titled "WebPilot: A ChatGPT plugin with an interesting backstory" provides more information on the tool and lists these features:

  • Web Page Summarization: Input a URL, and WebPilot will provide a concise summary of the page's content, along with three thought-provoking questions or insights—perfect for editors and content creators.
  • Intelligent Q&A: Ask questions about the web page you're visiting, and WebPilot will provide answers based on the page's content.
  • Customized Tone: Specify your desired tone, such as “Steve Jobs,” and WebPilot will respond in that style.
  • Language Preference: WebPilot prioritizes your language choice. Start with “Bonjour,” and the conversation continues in French.
  • However, take that info with a grain of salt, as those last two items don't seem to be specific to WebPilot. ChatGPT switches to French itself just by typing Bonjour, and it happily complied to provide a response in the tone of Weird Al Yankovic without telling me it was using WebPilot.

Nevertheless, I can instruct ChatGPT to bypass its knowledge cutoff date with a prompt like, "Using the WebPilot plugin for ChatGPT, summarize the latest news about AI." That starts to generate a response while alerting me that WebPilot is being used with the message "Using WebPilot," which is followed up with the helpful "Used WebPilot" message after the response is generated.

To aid with fact checking, you can tell ChatGPT to list the URLs for its sourcing just by adding something like "list the URLs used to provide the information" to the prompt.

And just like that, you can get rid of those annoying ChatGPT messages such as "I'm sorry, I can't provide real-time updates or news as my training only includes information up to September 2021, and I don't have the ability to access or retrieve personal data unless it has been shared with me in the course of our conversation."

OpenAI lets users Chat with ChatGPT plugin WebPilot online from outside of the official ChatGPT interface(along with all the other dozens of plugins), with the option to provide your own OpenAI API key if needed to bypass the API key limit for the general-access online version.

Note that some problems have been reported with the use of WebPilot, such as yesterday's social media post titled Let ChatGPT visit a website and have your email stolen, which involves the use of WebPilot. More discussion about that can be found on Hacker News.

Others, however, have put the tool to good use, such as the user "arcanepsyche" on Reddit, who four days ago reported "I got the WebPilot plugin to critique my product landing pages."

"I run an e-commerce site and I decided to see if GPT could use WebPilot to access one of my product landing pages and analyze it for effectiveness," the post said. "It proceeded to do just that, giving me a point-by-point report of good things and things, I could improve. I can only imagine other uses in this area! Having live access to the web, even just via a plugin, is a huge game changer."

Some sources say the official release of WebPilot will happen this month, May, so stay tuned while you wait, along with me, for OpenAI's web browsing feature to be bestowed.


About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.