2023 Speech Industry Award Winner: OpenAI and Its ChatGPT Upended Everything

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When it comes to new technologies, few have had as much of an impact as generative artificial intelligence, ushered in by OpenAI in November with its ChatGPT launch.

“I have never seen a technology with so much potential to upend everything we do from a business standpoint for the better,” said Daniel Rodriguez, chief marketing officer of Simplr, a customer experience outsourcing solutions provider.

“The world changed with the launch of ChatGPT, and the opportunity for enterprises can’t be overstated,” Ada cofounder and CEO Mike Murchison said shortly after the ChatGPT launch.

Rodriguez and Murchison are not alone in that belief. Industry insiders almost universally agree that the potential of generative AI to completely revolutionize the speech industry can’t be overstated.

ChatGPT is the brainchild of OpenAI, a San Francisco-based startup that calls itself an AI research lab with a declared mission of developing safe and beneficial AI with “highly autonomous systems that outperform humans at most economically valuable work.”

The company was founded in December 2015 as a nonprofit that pledged to share its innovations with the world. Just a few months later, in April 2016, it released a public beta of OpenAI Gym, a platform for reinforcement learning research. Later that year, it released Universe, a software platform for measuring and training AI across the world’s supply of games, websites, and other applications.

OpenAI introduced the first Generative Pre-Training (GPT) model in 2018. A year later, it launched GPT-2, a larger model that could generate more coherent text.

Also in 2019, OpenAI transitioned from nonprofit to a capped for-profit model and received a $1 billion investment from Microsoft.

But 2020 was the real turning point for the company, when it introduced GPT-3, a large language model trained on huge amounts of internet data. GPT-3 had 100 times as many parameters as GPT-2 and could perform various tasks with far fewer examples.

A year later, OpenAI introduced DALL-E, a deep learning model that could generate digital images from natural language descriptions.

And in September 2022, OpenAI released the open-source Whisper, its automatic speech recognition technology for transcription and translations. Whisper was trained using 680,000 hours of multilingual and multitask data collected from the web, which OpenAI says has led to improved recognition of unique accents, background noise, and technical jargon.

Whisper API, a hosted version of Whisper, followed in March. OpenAI sees Whisper’s transcription capabilities being used to improve existing apps, services, products, and tools. Already, AI-powered language learning app Speak is using the Whisper API to power a new in-app virtual speaking companion.

But OpenAI’s widespread media coverage didn’t come until ChatGPT, which is based on GPT-3.5. ChatGPT collected more than 1 million signups in its first five days.

Uma Challa, a senior director analyst in Gartner’s Customer Service & Support Practice, said at the time that ChatGPT “captured the world’s attention because it signifies the first widely known artificial intelligence technology that challenges the one trait humans always thought they would have over machines: creativity.”

In addition to its previous $1 billion investment, Microsoft kicked in another multi-year $10 billion investment in OpenAI earlier this year. The software giant is building AI technology based on the same foundation as ChatGPT into many of its software products, including its Bing search engine.

And OpenAI’s work with ChatGPT hasn’t stopped there. Just this past March, the company released GPT-4, both as an API and as a feature of ChatGPT Plus. OpenAI stated that GPT-4 is “more reliable, creative, and able to handle much more nuanced instructions” than its GPT-3 or GPT-3.5 predecessors.

“With more and various iterations of generative AI on the horizon, it’s poised to revolutionize numerous aspects of our everyday business and personal lives,” said Eric Jang, founder and CEO of Deepbrain AI. “If you think the last few months have been wild, just wait to see what’s to come as each advancement builds on AI-powered advancement.”

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