ChatGPT and Perplexity AI Tweak Free Plans In Battle for Users



OpenAI and Perplexity AI are tweaking their respective platforms to attract more users and revenue, the former lowering barriers to access and the other exploring advertising.

On Monday, ChatGPT developer OpenAI said it would allow users to access GPT-3.5 without requiring them to set up or log into an account.

“Starting today, you can use ChatGPT instantly, without needing to sign up,” OpenAI said in a blog post. “We’re rolling this out gradually, with the aim to make AI accessible to anyone curious about its capabilities.”

One tradeoff, however, is that OpenAI said the version of ChatGPT that’s made available to people who do not log in will come with additional “safeguards” like blocking prompts and “generations in a wider range of categories.”

“There are many benefits to creating an account, including the ability to save and review your chat history, share chats, and unlock additional features like voice conversations and custom instructions,” OpenAI said.

OpenAI disclosed that user prompts submitted by users without accounts may still be used to train its models, but said that this practice could be disabled in the service’s settings.

“For anyone that has been curious about AI’s potential but didn’t want to go through the steps to set up an account, start using ChatGPT today,” the company pitched.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to Decrypt’s request for comment.

Already open to use without an account, AI platform Perplexity is meanwhile adding ads to its platform to generate more revenue.

“We are exploring potential advertising options inside of Perplexity, but we would only incorporate them in a way that still preserves the promise of unbiased answers,” Perplexity AI chief business officer Dmitry Shevelenko told Decrypt. “Our principles ensure we remain focused on delivering a best-in-class user experience as we introduce advertising solutions.”

Ads would put advertisers in front of a reported 10 million monthly active users. The planned addition was first reported by AdWeek.

Perplexity AI was launched in August 2022 by a team of developers and engineers from OpenAI, Meta, Quora, and Databrick, all led by Aravind Srinivas, Denis Yarats, Johnny Ho, and Andy Konwinski. The company describes its platform as an “answer engine” instead of a “chatbot,” the colloquial term for a large language model AI.

When advertising is introduced, Shevelenko said Perplexity would not show ads before providing responses, and would not let advertisers pay to promote or otherwise bias an answer.

Instead, it will develop its ad products and is exploring using the “related questions” feature as a natural entry point for brands to influence the follow-up questions people ask on Perplexity, Shevelenko explained.

“However, this is all speculative at this stage as we have no firm products built yet or timeline on releasing them,” Shevelenko said. “We will keep you posted as we finalize our plans and product scope.”

Shevelenko did not say if signing up for the $20 monthly Pro tier would eliminate or reduce ads. Currently, an account is needed to sign up for Perplexity AI’s Pro plan, which includes image uploads, more robust AI features including Claude 2 and GPT-4, and search.

Notably, Perplexity’s website used to say, “Perplexity was founded on the belief that searching for information should be a straightforward, efficient experience, free from the influence of advertising-driven models.” Now that verbiage has been removed.

Perplexity AI distinguishes itself by providing citations along with the answers provided in its responses. Srinivas said this comes from the team’s academic background, where a statement made in a paper requires citation.

“We want to communicate clearly to the end user that we’re not here to sell you another chatbot and alternative to ChatGPT,” Srinivas previously told Decrypt. “We’re here to help find answers to any question, and that’s why we call [Perplexity] an answer engine.”

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.



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