The startup OpenAI on Tuesday said it is beginning to release a powerful artificial intelligence model known as GPT-4, setting the stage for human-like technology to proliferate and more competition between its backer Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc's Google.
OpenAI, which created the chatbot sensation ChatGPT, said in a blog post that its latest technology is "multimodal," meaning images, as well as text prompts, can spur it to generate content.
The text-input feature will be available to ChatGPT Plus subscribers and to software developers, with a waitlist, while the image-input ability remains a preview of its research.
The highly-anticipated launch signals how office workers may turn to ever-improving AI for still more tasks, as well as how technology companies are locked in competition to win business from such advances.
Alphabet Inc's Google on Tuesday announced a "magic wand" for its collaboration software that can draft virtually any document, days before Microsoft is expected to showcase AI for its competing Word processor, likely powered by OpenAI.
A Microsoft executive also said that GPT-4 is helping power its Bing search engine.
OpenAI's latest technology in some cases represented a vast improvement on a prior version known as GPT-3.5, it said.
In a simulation of the bar exam required of US law school graduates before professional practice, the new model scored around the top 10 percent of test takers, versus the older model ranking around the bottom 10 percent, OpenAI said.
While the two versions can appear similar in casual conversation, "the difference comes out when the complexity of the task reaches a sufficient threshold," OpenAI said, noting "GPT-4 is more reliable, creative, and able to handle much more nuanced instructions".
An online demonstration of the technology by Greg Brockman, OpenAI's president, showed it could take a photo of a hand-drawn mock-up for a simple website and create a real website based on it.
GPT-4 also could help individuals calculate their taxes, the demonstration showed.
Sam Altman, OpenAI's chief executive, on Twitter called GPT-4 its model "most capable and aligned" with human values and intent, though "it is still flawed."
GPT-4 is 82 percent less likely to respond to requests for disallowed content than its predecessor and scores 40 percent higher on certain tests of factuality, the company said.
Inaccurate responses known as "hallucinations" have been a challenge for many AI programs.
Microsoft stands to benefit from GPT-4's adoption, said Rishi Jaluria, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.
The software maker not only is integrating OpenAI's latest technology into its products: its Azure cloud is powering usage of OpenAI just as budget-conscious businesses are scrutinising IT spending in an uncertain economy, he said.
"Whenever a company uses this piece of technology," Jaluria said, "those workloads go through Microsoft Azure, and I think this is coming at a very critical time."