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OpenAI first announced third-party software application plug-ins for its successful ChatGPT service in March, allowing users to extend its functionality to do things like read full PDFs. This week the company said which is taking one of its own internal plug-ins, Code interpreterand making it available to all its ChatGPT Plus subscribers.
Code Interpreter “allows ChatGPT to execute code, optionally with access to files you’ve uploaded,” wrote an OpenAI spokesperson on the company’s continuously updated ChatGPT release notes blog. “You can ask ChatGPT to analyze data, create graphs, edit files, perform calculations, etc.”
With a wide range of tools and large memory, the AI can write code in Python and manipulate files up to 100MB in size.
Code Interpreter allows ChatGPT Plus users to generate graphs, maps, data visualizations and graphics, analyze music playlists, create interactive HTML files, clean datasets and extract color palettes from images. The interpreter unlocks a myriad of features, making it a powerful tool for data visualization, analysis, and manipulation.
No wonder, then, that early reactions from ChatGPT power users and tech influencers are overwhelmingly positive.
New powers, unlocked
Linas Beliūnas, country manager for Europe and Lithuanian GM of Flutterwave wrote a review on his LinkedIn: “OpenAI is unlocking its most powerful feature from GPT-4 to everyone. Anyone can be a data analyst now.
Beliūnas helpfully included a slideshow in his post showing 10 examples of new data visualization and analysis tasks he was able to produce with ChatGPT using Code Interpreter, including creating an interactive HTML “heatmap” of UFO sightings from across the United States using only an “unpolished dataset.”
Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a prominent AI influencer, wrote in his Substack bulletin “One Useful Thing”, which ChatGPT with Code Interpreter is “the single most useful and interesting AI mode I’ve used”.
Mollick wrote that Code Interpreter “makes AI much more versatile” and can provide structured data to support points a user might want to make: “For example, I asked him to prove to a skeptic that the Earth is round with code, and provided multiple topics, integrating text with code and images.
Counter user grumbles
Another example Mollick showed was downloading a public list of superheroes and their powers and asking ChatGPT with Code Interpreter to parse them.
“When asked about the results of the network’s analysis, it came to some interesting conclusions: The set of powers heroes commonly had were visual in nature (because they came from comics), they fit certain archetypes, and were more suited to build ongoing adventures,” Mollick wrote.
The new use cases should also help OpenAI counter growing grumbles from some users, particularly those participating in the ChatGPT and AI Reddit subreddits, who have observed that ChatGPT is becoming narrower and less capable over time, by prohibiting certain topics of conversation and lines of inquiry.
Safety first (and always)
Security remains the focal point of Code Interpreter’s design. The main goal is to ensure that AI-generated code does not lead to unforeseen repercussions in the real world. As users explore and discover new applications, OpenAI plans to continue refining security protocols based on the insights gained from this beta release.
One of the most intriguing applications of Code Interpreter is in data science, where it has been described as operating at an “advanced level”. It can automate complex quantitative analyses, merge and cleanse data, and even reason about data in a human way. The AI can produce visualizations and dashboards, which users can then refine and customize by simply having a conversation with the AI. Its ability to create downloadable output adds another level of usability to Code Interpreter.
Mollick said the tool offers the strongest case yet for AI as a valuable companion in sophisticated knowledge work. While human oversight remains crucial, the new feature reduces mechanical work, allowing for more meaningful and in-depth work.
“Code Interpreter represents the clearest positive view yet of what AI can mean for work: interruptions, yes, but interruptions that lead to better and more meaningful work,” said Mollick.
Code Interpreter is clearly setting a new standard for the future of AI and data science. With this tool, OpenAI is once again pushing the boundaries of ChatGPT and large language models (LLM).
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