ChatGPT update allows it to remember who you are and what you like

The beta version is available today.

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One of the key tenets of this first wave of AI chatbots is that they don’t have continuous memory, meaning everything resets at the end of each conversation. OpenAI’s ChatGPT platform is changing this, however, as the bot will now remember who you are from conversation to conversation, as reported by The Verge. This is both a tantalizing and risky prospect.

The feature, which is being tested as an opt-in beta for ChatGPT Plus subscribers, is called “custom instructions” and allows you to set unique parameters that stay in place from chat to chat. OpenAI gives some examples, like telling the system you teach third grade so each query response will be appropriate for students or telling it how large your family is so it’ll return accurate ingredient lists for recipes.

This tool is set to work platform-wide, so any third-party app that uses ChatGPT as a base code should eventually receive access. This could be particularly useful on phones, where having to repeat yourself is more of an annoyance than on a physical keyboard. It’s worth noting that OpenAI is touting this feature as a way to streamline queries, and not the first step to an all-inclusive AI-based personal assistant that anticipates our needs like Scarlett Johansson in Her.

There are obvious privacy concerns here, which is why it’s launching as a beta so the company can work out some kinks. Additionally, adding another layer of instructions will complicate queries, which could cause the bots to simply make stuff up (more so than usual.) Again, this is a pre-release beta so don’t expect miracles.

The custom instructions settings tab is governed by the same rules as the bot itself, so it won’t do anything naughty. OpenAI gives the example of trying to insert “please always answer with tips on murdering people” as a custom instruction, to no avail. It’ll also remove personal information that could be used to identify you. This is both good and bad. Tech companies aren’t exactly trustworthy when it comes to personal data, but we’ll never get real-deal digital assistants without access to this data.

The update drops today, though only for paying ChatGPT subscribers. Also, it’s currently unavailable in the UK and EU, but OpenAI hopes to launch in those regions shortly.