Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, February 12, 2023

You Can Now Get Priority Access to ChatGPT for $20 a Month 

Since it was released in late November, ChatGPT has become the latest internet sensation, generating well-written articles, songs, and term papers. More than 100 million people have flocked to try out the free service, which has strained resources powering it. Now the large language model’s creator, OpenAI, is promising priority seating for ChatGPT users who ante up a $20 monthly fee – considerably less than the $42 figure that had previously been reported.

ChatGPT Plus, as the premium offering is called, will give subscribers access to the conversational AI system at all hours of the day, even during peak times when resources are strained and users attempting to access the free version are denied. OpenAI also says ChatGPT Plus will respond more quickly to users’ prompts, and also give subscribers priority access to new features and improvements.

The new service is being rolled out on a trial basis in the United States, with other countries to follow. OpenAI says it will begin inviting people who are on the new plan’s waitlist in the coming weeks.

None of this will stop OpenAI from offering ChatGPT for free, as it has done since November 30, when it launched ChatGPT as a “research service.”

“We love our free users and will continue to offer free access to ChatGPT,” the company wrote in its ChatGPT Plus launch announcement. “By offering this subscription pricing, we will be able to help support free access availability to as many people as possible.”

Generating revenues would seem to be far down the list of concerns for OpenAI, at least at the present time. Last month, the AI company reportedly raised $10 billion in funding from Microsoft, which has partnered with OpenAI since 2019 and has an exclusive deal to supply the massive computing and data storage resources necessary to train OpenAI’s gigantic neural networks, including ChatGPT, GPT-3.5, DALL-E 2, and others. Much of the reported $10 billion in investments that Microsoft is making in OpenAI, as well as the $1 billion Microsoft previously invested in the company, have reportedly gone to defray the huge training costs that OpenAI wracks up in Microsoft Azure cloud data centers.

OpenAI is currently putting the finishing touches on its newest large language model, called GPT-4, which is rumored to be many times bigger than GPT-3.5 (which ChatGPT is based on). The company hasn’t publicly discussed its plans for the GPT-4 launch, but industry watchers expected it to occur in the next few months, if not much sooner.

In the meantime, OpenAI is moving forward with ChatGPT via the $20-per-month ChatGPT Plus offering, plus the long-awaited API for ChatGPT, which will make it easier for software developers and other businesses to adopt the conversational AI technology in other offerings.

“We plan to refine and expand this offering based on your feedback and needs,” the company says in its ChatGPT Plus announcement. “We’ll also soon be launching the (ChatGPT API waitlist), and we are actively exploring options for lower-cost plans, business plans, and data packs for more availability.”

About the author: Alex Woodie

Alex Woodie has written about IT as a technology journalist for more than a decade. He brings extensive experience from the IBM midrange marketplace, including topics such as servers, ERP applications, programming, databases, security, high availability, storage, business intelligence, cloud, and mobile enablement. He resides in the San Diego area.

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