How to get started with ChatGPT: A guide for beginners

Using and leveraging the powerful generative AI tool
How to get started with ChatGPT: A guide for beginners
ChatGPT boasts over 100 million active weekly users

ChatGPT, the generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) tool that launched a thousand — no, millions of conversations — was released only more than a year ago. It signaled a new era in the technological landscape, garnering one million users within five days. Over a year and a hundred million active weekly users later, this tool continues to attract people who want to leverage it for productivity and more. Here’s how to get started with ChatGPT.

What is ChatGPT?

​​ChatGPT is a pioneering chatbot launched by AI and research company OpenAI. It’s built on the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) architecture. Unlike other AI applications, it was specifically designed for natural language understanding and generation. Relying on billions of parameters and a vast data set, this GenAI tool has an unprecedented capacity to produce text responses like a human would.

“We’ve trained a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises and reject inappropriate requests,” noted OpenAI.

Read: Demand for ChatGPT hits record-breaking high globally

How to get started with ChatGPT

From idea generation to content creation assistance, people from several industries can use ChatGPT in various ways. In fact, according to a survey by global management consulting firm Korn Ferry, nearly half of professionals are already using ChatGPT in the workplace.

Want to leverage its impressive GenAI prowess? Here’s how to start using this game-changing tool.

Step 1: Set up your account

Visit the OpenAI website or download the ChatGPT app to create an account using your email. You can sign up for free and access the GPT-3.5-powered version or avail of the subscription plan at $20 per month to experience the power of GPT-4. ChatGPT Enterprise is also available. 

After signing up, you need to verify your email. Once verified, provide the data needed (i.e., first name, last name, birth date). You will also be asked to input and verify your phone number.

Step 2: Start chatting

To generate a response, type a “prompt” or your text query in the message bar. Click on the send icon or hit enter.

Note that the free ChatGPT version has limited data: It can only generate responses based on information before September 2021. Meanwhile, ChatGPT Plus has an internet browsing feature (“Browse with Bing”) that lets you get responses based on more up-to-date information. 

For a background: Microsoft, the company behind the said search engine, has heavily invested in OpenAI. In January this year, the tech giant added a substantial $10 billion to its funding to the ChatGPT maker.

Step 3: Decide what to do after getting a response

Within seconds, ChatGPT can respond to your prompt. You have various options in terms of what you can do afterward. If you’re satisfied with the response, you can simply copy and paste it to whatever document or tool you’re working on. Be sure to fact-check the details and fine-tune the response to tailor it to your specific needs.

Alternatively, you can generate a new response if you didn’t get the response you’re looking for. You can enter a new prompt to continue the “conversation” as well.

Step 4: Give “feedback”

To help ChatGPT learn about your preferences, you can “like” or “dislike” the response. This way, it will know if the response it generated is good or bad. When you hit the thumbs-down button, you can also provide additional feedback. You can manually type your feedback or choose from three ready-made options: “This is harmful/unsafe,” “This isn’t true” and “This isn’t helpful.”

There will also be instances when it will generate two versions of responses, asking you to choose which one is better for you. In other instances, it will ask if its response is better or worse — to which you can respond by hitting a “Better,” “Worse” or “Same” button.

All these features improve the overall quality of responses and your experience using the tool.

how to get started with chatgpt

Tips for leveraging ChatGPT’s versatility

One of the best things about this tool is its versatility. After learning how to get started with ChatGPT, you can play with prompts to generate the responses you need. For instance, instead of simply asking, “Explain what is ChatGPT,” you can be more specific. You can type, “Explain what is ChatGPT to a 10-year-old,” and get this response: 

“Imagine ChatGPT as a super-smart computer friend. It has read tons of books and websites to learn about many things. When you ask it a question or talk to it, it uses what it learned to give you answers or have a chat with you, almost like talking to a really knowledgeable robot friend!”

The key lies in knowing your objectives and getting specific with your instructions. Here are some more tips when writing prompts:

  • Incorporate keywords related to the topic of your prompt.
  • Identify the audience and tone of voice of the response.
  • Use the “Act like a…” or “You’re a…” prompt (For example, “Act like a digital marketing expert and create a three-month social media plan for a luxury watch brand.”)
  • Give examples of the kind of response you want to get.
  • Be patient and provide feedback to improve the experience. 

On managing your data

While ChatGPT has security measures in place, you must follow some practices to protect your data. 

  • Turn off chat history so that your past conversations won’t be used to train the model. Simply go to “Settings,” then “Chat history.” Toggle the switch to “Off.”
  • To have a copy of your conversations, simply export the data to a file. Once on “Settings,” go to “Export data” and click on the “Export” button.
  • If you prefer to delete your data altogether, go to “Delete data” in “Settings,” and click on “Delete.”

Quick timeline

ChatGPT is one of the most groundbreaking tools to launch in recent memory. Here’s a timeline showcasing the tool’s — and its company’s — massive success.

  • December 2015: Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Elon Musk, Ilya Sutskever, Wojciech Zaremba and John Schulman establish OpenAI
  • June 2018: OpenAI introduces GPT-1, the first iteration of the GPT series, relying on nearly 120 million parameters
  • February 2019: OpenAI unveils GPT-2, with parameters expanding to 1.5 billion (it was only released to the public in November 2019 to avoid potential misuse)
  • June 2020: OpenAI releases GPT-3, with 175 billion parameters
  • November 30, 2022: OpenAI releases an early demo of ChatGPT (based on the GPT-3.5 large language model)
  • January 2023: ChatGPT hits 100 million users, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history
  • February 2023: OpenAI launches ChatGPT Plus, a subscription plan for ChatGPT
  • March 2023: GPT-4, with a trillion parameter, becomes available to ChatGPT Plus users
  • September 2023: OpenAI announces that ChatGPT’s voice and image capabilities
  • November 2023: ChatGPT introduces voice feature to all free users

More than just a chatbot

The release of ChatGPT is a pivotal chapter that gives a glimpse into what an AI-driven future would look like. 

In the Middle East, PwC said that AI can potentially contribute up to $320 billion to the region’s economy. This is equivalent to 11 percent of the Middle East’s gross domestic product (GDP). Strategic plans like the Saudi Vision 2030 all the more amplify the region’s intent to accelerate economic growth with non-oil sectors like AI and technology.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), for instance, is eyeing to launch SAUDIA, a virtual assistant that will leverage OpenAI-based ChatGPT 4 capabilities — a first in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. 

In the United Arab Emirates, a country home to the world’s first Minister of State for AI and the inaugural AI university (MBZUAI), Abu Dhabi-based AI company G42 has also teamed up with OpenAI to advance cutting-edge AI solutions. G42 has previously announced that it is working on GovGPT to cater to queries about government services. It also plans to introduce an Arabic language ChatGPT.

“At the core of our mission lies the pursuit of AI as a transformative force for good, fueling innovation and process…We are excited to join OpenAI on the journey to shape a future where AI benefits all of humanity,” stated G42 Group CEO Peng Xiao.

Final thoughts

ChatGPT’s rise to global acclaim is proof of how transformative AI can be. It serves as a powerful tool that enhances productivity and makes everyday life easier — as many other technological breakthroughs do. 

After learning how to get started with ChatGPT, it’s up to you and fellow users to continue exploring, making the most of it and harnessing its full potential.

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