OpenAI announces custom ChatGPT bots and AI marketplace

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman (AP)
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman (AP)

OpenAI will let paying users create and sell their own ChatGPTs in a bid to offer an online marketplace for AI chatbots.

The US-based tech firm announced the launch of custom GPTs for paying customers at its inaugural developer conference on Monday, November 6. By launching a digital store for chatbots, OpenAI is charting a similar path to tech giants like Apple and Google, which operate lucrative mobile app stores.

The update comes almost a year after the public got their hands on the company’s conversational bot, ChatGPT. Today, the AI helper is used by more than 100 million users a week, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman revealed at the event.

For its next act, the company is embracing the hottest new trend in artificial intelligence: custom chatbots. Rival AI firms like Character.AI already allow users to create and share AI personas, including bots based on real and fictional people, in just a few simple steps. Facebook owner Meta is also promising to offer a similar feature after recently announcing chatbots based on celebs.

Banning dodgy chatbots

Compared to some of the outlandish bots available on Character.AI, OpenAI appears to be playing it safe. Users won’t be able to create bots with adult themes, and OpenAI says it will actively block those that try to scam people or spew hateful content.

In essence, the company will let paying customers build tailor-made ChatGPTs that can offer help with specific tasks, either in the office or at home. For instance, OpenAI says you could make a bot that can teach you how to play a board game, help your kids with Maths, or design stickers.

The neutered approach is hardly a surprise when you consider the strict content moderation safeguards built into the firm’s main AI tools. ChatGPT, for example, has been accused of bias for refusing to respond to certain prompts relating to religious or divisive political figures, such as Donald Trump and the Prophet Muhammad.

How to build a custom GPT

Those paying for the premium version of ChatGPT will be able to access the new GPT Builder as part of their subscription.

The tool lets you develop and modify chatbots by typing in a set of instructions, after which it will generate your custom GPT. You can then play around with the saved bot in a preview pane by asking it questions and checking its responses.

Finally, when you’re satisfied with how it works, you can publish and share the bot publicly.

When will the GPT store launch?

Later this month, OpenAI plans to launch the GPT Store, featuring bots by verified builders. Much like the App Store, users will be able to discover custom GPTs on the marketplace by searching for them or browsing specific categories or a chart.

In the coming months, builders will also be able to earn money based on how many people use their GPT. There’s currently no word on how much OpenAI will pay out to developers, or what the revenue-split will look like.

More advanced tinkerers can even use OpenAI’s software toolkit, known as an API, to connect their GPTs to external sources, such as an email account or a database. Businesses will be able to start using the custom GPT builder on Wednesday, November 8. Meanwhile, OpenAI’s partners Canva and Zapier have already created their own bots for others to use.

In terms of privacy, public chats with GPTs aren’t shared with their creators - although developers can choose to share data with OpenAI to help improve and train the firm’s AI models.

“We believe the most incredible GPTs will come from builders in the community,” the company said in a blog post.