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What is ChatGPT? Explaining the viral AI chatbot coming out of San Francisco

Everyone and their mom is talking about ChatGPT. So what is this new technology that people are fascinated by and even a little bit afraid of?

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot released by the San Francisco company OpenAI.

Humans can ask it questions, and it will send back answers that range from chatty to scientific to poetic. Given a prompt, it can write emails, papers and movie scripts. It can churn out meal-planning suggestions, complex code and even guess at medical diagnoses.

ChatGPT isn't searching the internet in real time. Rather, it's built on a machine-learning model that was trained with massive amounts of text and information, and then refined using a training algorithm involving feedback from real humans.

But ChatGPT isn't foolproof. The company warns it may churn out plausible-sounding but ultimately incorrect answers. Though it was built to turn down inappropriate requests, it can at times be tricked into responding with harmful or biased answers. Users have gotten it to give out instructions for making a bomb, for example.

Watch our video explainer on the tool and try it out for yourself while the service remains free.

Sophie Bearman can be reached at