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‘it was a good run’: ChatGPT’s new Turbo update just destroyed cottage industry of developers piggybacking on AI’s success

The updates could spell the end for cheap 'wrapper' tools built on top of the language model


Marlon Ettinger


Posted on Nov 6, 2023   Updated on Nov 6, 2023, 3:22 pm CST

OpenAI’s “DevDay” a Steve Jobs-style product presentation announcing the company’s newest tools and features, has techies on X warning that the announcement means the end for small startups piggybacking off ChatGPT, with the new power and lower pricing of the “Turbo” GPT presenting an existential threat to many projects.

“Lots of A.I. startups just died,” said @MikeBirdTech. “Re-evaluate your value add and pivot if needed. Everything just changed (again).”

One of the biggest features OpenAI CEO Sam Altman announced was a vastly increased context length of 128,000 tokens to ChatGPT, the Large Language Model that took the internet by storm this year.

Tokens are the parts of words used in natural language processing to parse meaning out of text. One token is about four characters.

“It can basically read a 400 page book in one context window,” commented u/Mescalian on the r/OpenAI subreddit. “Actually it can probably write a whole book now lol.”

Another big update to the model was moving up the knowledge cutoff for the model.

“We are just as annoyed as all of you, probably more, that GPT’s knowledge about the world ended in 2021,” Altman said, referencing the fact that the previous model didn’t have any information about what happened in the world after September 2021. “We will try to never let it get that out of date again. GPT-Turbo has knowledge about the world up to April of 2023.”

The update also includes tools that allow developers greater customization and reproducibility, as well as API access for visual and audio tools built on the model. Use cases for the new features which Altman referenced included natural speech generation, description of images for blind people in day-to-day life, as well as the ability to generate custom-built, reproducible tools for users.

“rest in peace all wrapper startups it was a good run” posted @10x_er.

Wrappers” are ChatGPT adjecent apps that are built on top of the ChatGPT model as an interface to interact with the model in a more user-friendly way. Some of the new features being rolled out in the update could make it easier for general users to build these tools for themselves quickly without having to program anything.

These wrappers are part of a cottage industry that sprung up in the wake of ChatGPT’s explosive popularity. They automate all sorts of tasks you can do directly in ChatGPT, often shoddily, like chatting with characters from TV shows, interacting with PDFs, or running trivia competitions.

One of the features released by OpenAI is extreme customization for ChatGPT, which would also directly eliminate a number of wrappers.

“how it feels trying to center a silly little div, minutes before openai decimates your silly little startup,” posted one user on X next to the “This is Fine” meme.

“”Your customer base, is for me? 🥺👉👈  might mess around & obliterate your startup from orbit today, anon,” posted another next to an image of a sheepish-looking Altman.

But other users said that the new update wouldn’t be a threat to anything that wasn’t an opportunistic cash grab anyway.

“I’m not scared of @OpenAI killing my startup,” said @Mbounge_. “I’m operating in a niche that will alienate their product.”

And others pointed out that rather than spelling the end of their project, the lower pricing would boost their prospects.

“OpenAI killed a bunch of startups today, but others literally just got a lifesaver,” commented u/ulidabess on Reddit. “The library I built for implementing Copilots just became 3x more affordable, easier to implement, and its performance will be significantly better. Easy to focus on the GPT wrappers that will have to pivot and adapt, but for many projects in the space this was a gift. It’s a crazy time to be building in AI…”

“Nothing to doom about!” said @Jacksonmills onX. “Just be excited about the new possibilities!”

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*First Published: Nov 6, 2023, 3:21 pm CST