What is GPT-4 & what is it capable of?


Person using a chat AI on their mobile device
Image: LALAKA/Adobe Stock

GPT-4 is an artificial intelligence large language model system that can mimic human-like speech and reasoning. It does so by training on a vast library of existing human communication, from classic works of literature to large swaths of the internet.

Artificial intelligence of this type builds on that training to predict what letter, number or other character is likely to come in sequence. This cheat sheet explores GPT-4 from a high level: how to access GPT-4 for either consumer or business use, who made it and how it works.

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What is GPT-4?

GPT-4 is a large multimodal model that can mimic prose, art, video or audio produced by a human. GPT-4 is able to solve written problems or generate original text or images. GPT-4 is the fourth generation of OpenAI’s foundation model.

Who owns GPT-4?

GPT-4 is owned by OpenAI, an independent artificial intelligence company based in San Francisco. OpenAI was founded in 2015; it started out as a nonprofit but has since shifted to a for-profit model. OpenAI has received funding from Elon Musk, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Infosys, and other corporate and individual backers.

OpenAI has also produced ChatGPT, a free-to-use chatbot spun out of the previous generation model, GPT-3.5, and DALL-E, an image-generating deep learning model. As the technology improves and grows in its capabilities, OpenAI reveals less and less about how its AI solutions are trained.

When was GPT-4 released?

OpenAI announced its release of GPT-4 on March 14, 2023. It was immediately available for ChatGPT Plus subscribers, while other interested users needed to join a waitlist for access.

SEE: Salesforce looped generative AI into its sales and field service products.

How can you access GPT-4?

The public version of GPT-4 is available at the ChatGPT portal site. OpenAI notes that this access may be slow, as they expect to be “severely capacity constrained.” They plan to release a new subscription level for people who use GPT-4 often and a free GPT-4 access portal with a limited number of allowable queries. No information has been released yet about when these might become available.

How much does GPT-4 cost to use?

For an individual, the ChatGPT Plus subscription costs $20 per month to use.

Enterprise customers wanting to use the GPT-4 API can join the waitlist. Access is limited; as of now, OpenAI has given only one company — the accessibility software group, Be My Eyes — partner access to its visual capabilities.

Pricing for the text-only GPT-4 API starts at $0.03 per 1k prompt tokens (one token is about four characters in English) and $0.06 per 1k completion (output) tokens, OpenAI said. (OpenAI explains more about how tokens are counted here.)

A second option with greater context length – about 50 pages of text – known as gpt-4-32k is also available. This option costs $0.06 per 1K prompt tokens and $0.12 per 1k completion tokens.

Capabilities of GPT-4

Like its predecessor, GPT-3.5, GPT-4’s main claim to fame is its output in response to natural language questions and other prompts. OpenAI says GPT-4 can “follow complex instructions in natural language and solve difficult problems with accuracy.” Specifically, GPT-4 can solve math problems, answer questions, make inferences or tell stories. In addition, GPT-4 can summarize large chunks of content, which could be useful for either consumer reference or business use cases, such as a nurse summarizing the results of their visit to a client.

OpenAI tested GPT-4’s ability to repeat information in a coherent order using several skills assessments, including AP and Olympiad exams and the Uniform Bar Examination. It scored in the 90th percentile on the Bar Exam and the 93rd percentile on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading & Writing exam. GPT-4 earned varying scores on AP exams.

These are not true tests of knowledge; instead, running GPT-4 through standardized tests shows the model’s ability to form correct-sounding answers out of the mass of preexisting writing and art it was trained on. GPT-4 predicts which token is likely to come next in a sequence. (One token may be a section of a string of numbers, letters, spaces or other characters.)

Limitations of GPT-4 for business

Like other AI tools of its ilk, GPT-4 has limitations. For example, GPT-4 does not check if its statements are accurate. Its training on text and images from throughout the internet can make its responses nonsensical or inflammatory. However, OpenAI has digital controls and human trainers to try to keep the output as useful and business-appropriate as possible.

Additionally, GPT-4 tends to create ‘hallucinations,’ which is the artificial intelligence term for inaccuracies. Its words may make sense in sequence since they’re based on probabilities established by what the system was trained on, but they aren’t fact-checked or directly connected to real events. OpenAI is working on reducing the number of falsehoods the model produces.

Another major limitation is the question of whether sensitive corporate information that’s fed into GPT-4 will be used to train the model and expose that data to external parties. Microsoft, which has a resale deal with OpenAI, plans to offer private ChatGPT instances to corporations later in the second quarter of 2023, according to an April report.

Like GPT-3.5, GPT-4 does not incorporate information more recent than September 2021 in its lexicon. One of GPT-4’s competitors, Google Bard, does have up-to-the-minute information because it is trained on the contemporary internet.

GPT-4 vs. GPT-3.5 or ChatGPT

OpenAI’s second most recent model, GPT-3.5, differs from the current generation in a few ways. OpenAI has not revealed the size of the model that GPT-4 was trained on but says it is “more data and more computation” than the billions of parameters ChatGPT was trained on. GPT-4 has also shown more deftness when it comes to writing a wider variety of materials, including fiction.

GPT-4 performs higher than ChatGPT on the standardized tests mentioned above. Answers to prompts given to the chatbot may be more concise and easier to parse.

Additionally, GPT-4 is better than GPT-3.5 at making business decisions, such as scheduling or summarization. GPT-4 is “82% less likely to respond to requests for disallowed content and 40% more likely to produce factual responses,” OpenAI said.

SEE: Learn how to use ChatGPT.

Another large difference between the two models is that GPT-4 can handle images. It can serve as a visual aid, describing objects in the real world or determining the most important elements of a website and describing them.

“Over a range of domains — including documents with text and photographs, diagrams or screenshots — GPT-4 exhibits similar capabilities as it does on text-only inputs,” OpenAI wrote in its GPT-4 documentation.

Is upgrading to GPT-4 worth it?

Whether the new capabilities offered through GPT-4 are appropriate for your business is a decision that largely depends upon your use cases and whether you have found success with natural language artificial intelligence. Review the capabilities and limitations listed above, and consider where GPT-4 might be able to save time or reduce costs; conversely, consider which tasks might materially benefit from human knowledge, skill and common sense.


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