Education & Career Trends: November 28
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS
- Article by Ignacio de Gregorio, published on medium.com.
This is a story about how a 45-minute speech killed an entire billion-dollar market. This week OpenAI had its first-ever developer conference. Fewer times in history had there been higher expectations of a private technology event, and the OpenAI did not disappoint.
They announced a new, smarter GPT-4 model named ‘Turbo’ and they included several fascinating features that severely improve outputs and offer developers much more control over their models.
And all this while still managing to decrease, once again, API costs.
But one announcement went swiftly past most of the media while being the one with the highest immediate impact on the AI market, as this new feature alone threatens an entire start-up ecosystem and billions of invested capital.
The Importance of Abstraction
Even OpenAI couldn’t have predicted it. Not even they saw ChatGPT coming.
When you even impress yourself:
Over the last few months, we have seen multiple accounts from the top management on OpenAI like Ilya Sutskever, Mina Murati, and Sam Altman claim that when they released the open beta for ChatGPT back in November 2022 they didn’t expect it to have that huge access.
In two months, it had already reached 100 million first-time users, and was already officially the fastest-growing product in history, only recently surpassed by Instagram’s Threads.
In Ilya’s case, he went as far as claiming that he honestly thought the product ‘wasn’t that good’.
Nowadays, few people in this world don’t know what that 7-letter name means and many see Generative AI not only as a new frontier for AI but even as a new computer paradigm.
But even though the product was amazing, you really couldn’t do much more than simply toy with it. It was a fun and bewildering thing to use and… that was pretty much it.
To use it for real, valuable use cases like a knowledge management system — far and wide the most common enterprise Generative AI use case today — you require additional tools like vector databases.
Also, when OpenAI released its first ChatGPT API, people soon realised how constrained the browser version was compared to the API one.
It had a much smaller context window (the number of words it can process for one request) and the opportunities for a more customised solution were almost non-existent.
Long story short, unless you were a seasoned developer, ChatGPT was nothing more than a pastime product with some minor utility if you were willing to put on the effort and you had some tech savviness.
And with this realisation, the opportunity came.
Soon, multiple developers around the world realised that they could create entirely new products in a few days that could offer more customised solutions built on top of ChatGPT by abstracting the complexity of building such solutions to more layperson audiences.
For instance, tools like ChatPDF or AskYourPDF allowed you to send the model actual documents for it to answer about them, and so became widely available.
As the appeal was very clear, people started paying decent money to use these products even though ChatGPT was (and still is) mainly free.
The name of these types of start-ups?
ChatGPT Wrappers, and soon enough reports of 18-year-old bedroom developers around the world earning, in some cases, millions, proliferated.
Probably, the most famous of all these wrappers is Jasper, a ChatGPT-based product focused on marketing teams.
The tool allows you to create copyrighting material at scale, write blogs, optimise your web pages for SEO, and many other features.
Despite basically being a digital user interface with marketing-specific prompt engineering on top of OpenAI’s ChatGPT APIs, the company still managed to raise $125 million at a staggering $1.5 billion valuation back in October 2022.
Considering that ChatGPT was released literally the next month, that was probably one of the worst-timed investment rounds ever.
But, after OpenAI’s developer conference, this ecosystem of start-ups being built on ChatGPT will soon look more like a war zone.
Jasper And The Wrapper Graveyard
Long story short, OpenAI appears to be focusing its strategy for growth on making building AI tools easy by vertically integrating their solutions into higher abstraction layers… where the wrappers happen to be making their bucks.
Building time machines:
Honestly, it was quite easy to predict because, as Scott Galloway has said many times, the easiest way to build a billion-dollar company is to build a ‘time machine’.
A product or solution that makes the lives of people who use it easier.
More productive. Less effort.
In the case of OpenAI, that is none other than making Generative AI, a technology that a few years ago required almost a doctorate to even understand, an easy-to-use tech that works by simply clicking a few buttons… or simply asking something to it.
As shown by Sam Altman in OpenAI’s dev conference, a new software-building paradigm is upon us, with examples like Canva GPT where you can build Canva posters by simply asking for it.
This may seem eerily similar to ‘ChatGPT plugins’. In fact, Sam itself mentioned that these GPTs are indeed an improved evolution of that concept.
Just like you can find imperative programming languages like Python, where you have to control the complete building process, and declarative programming languages like SQL, where you simply declare what you want and the script gives it to you, AI is moving from an imperative technology to a declarative one.
With the new addition to an already overwhelming ChatGPT API of the Assistant API, you will now be able to embed agents into your solutions that leverage ChatGPT to use tools and do the dirty work for you.
This feature, added to the GPT Store where developers can build customised solutions and share revenues with OpenAI, the improved function calling, JSON outputting, seed referencing, accessible log probs, and more capable but cheaper models like GPT-4 Turbo, represent new amazing opportunities for developers to build incredible solutions.
The dawn of a new computing platform:
Previously to this announcement, you required these wrapper products to do the most simple stuff.
Now, most of their features are out-of-the-box capabilities in ChatGPT.
OpenAI is slowly pulling everyone into its ecosystem with a carefully laid out strategy that makes it almost indispensable to be a part of its platform if you want to survive. And just like before, a new ecosystem of applications will be built on top of ChatGPT, but this time is different.
This time, to play the game you need to play by the rules of OpenAI, and that is a death sentence to many start-ups and the billions invested in them.
Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)