AIWhat Is ChatGPT?


Kari Brooks
writes on November 3, 2023

Artificial Intelligence is advancing rapidly, and ChatGPT is one of the most talked-about AI tools right now. But what is ChatGPT, and how does it work? Read on to learn more.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is a specialized field within computer science that aims to create machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. These machines operate based on complex algorithms that instruct them on how to process information and make decisions. Think about the human tasks of understanding speech, making decisions, or solving problems—these are all tasks that AI algorithms are designed to execute.

One of the coolest aspects of AI is its ability to learn from data and improve its performance over time. In simpler terms, we’re talking about machines that can think, learn, and adapt much like humans.

When we talk about AI and what it can do, we often put them into on of three main categories based on their abilities:

  • Narrow AI: Designed to perform a single or limited set of tasks very well, like playing chess or recognizing faces in images. Most of the AI we interact with today is narrow AI. Voice assistants like Siri and Alexa are a few of the most popular applications today.
  • General AI: Also known as “Strong AI”, this category aims to create intelligent machines that are indistinguishable from human intelligence. This is still a theoretical concept.
  • Super AI: This “Superintelligence” category includes machines that are self-aware, with decision-making and problem solving capabilities far superior to those of human beings.

What Is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a language-based AI model developed using machine learning techniques. It’s among the most advanced language models in the world — a sophisticated digital conversational agent.

While remarkable, ChatGPT falls into the “Narrow AI” category. The system is tailored to perform exceptionally in particular tasks, but it doesn’t possess the human-like capacity to comprehend, learn, and utilize knowledge across diverse tasks and fields.

How Does ChatGPT Work?

ChatGPT operates on a machine learning model called the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT). Here’s how it works:

  1. Training Phase: GPT is trained on vast amounts of text data. During this phase, it learns to predict the next word in a sentence. It does this millions of times until it gets really good at understanding language patterns and structures.
  2. Contextual Understanding: Unlike simpler models that just look at individual words, GPT analyzes the context. It considers the entire input to determine the meaning and generate appropriate responses. This context-awareness is what makes its responses coherent and relevant.
  3. Transformers: The “transformer” architecture is the brain behind GPT. It allows the model to handle long-range dependencies in language, meaning it can connect ideas and concepts from different parts of a sentence or paragraph.
  4. Generation: When you input a question or statement, ChatGPT doesn’t search a database for an answer. Instead, it generates a response on-the-fly based on its training and the patterns it has learned.
  5. Optimization: The model fine-tunes its responses to provide the most relevant and coherent answer based on the context it’s given.

At its core, ChatGPT’s prowess lies in its ability to process and generate language based on patterns it has learned, using the transformer architecture to maintain context and coherence.

While ChatGPT is a powerful tool and a testament to advancements in AI, it’s essential to approach it with a clear understanding of its capabilities and limitations. It provides a snapshot of human-like textual interactions based on patterns in its training but doesn’t replace or replicate the depth and breadth of genuine human cognition and interaction.

Abilities of ChatGPT

Thanks to its underlying architecture, ChatGPT is incredibly versatile, and its abilities span a wide range, including these tasks:

  • Effortlessly answers follow-up questions fluidly based on context
  • Summarizes complex information
  • Translates text between various languages
  • Programming and debugging
  • Essay writing
  • Crafting detailed menu plans
  • Educational tutoring
  • Research assistance
  • Text-based and conversational games, such as role-playing adventure games, riddles, puzzles, and chess (by describing moves in algebraic notation)
  • Developing social media content and blog posts
ChatGPT prompt and resulting response

These abilities underscore the breadth of ChatGPT’s capabilities; however, despite these impressive skills, it is important to acknowledge that ChatGPT, like all technologies, has its limitations and is not infallible.

Limitations of ChatGPT

While ChatGPT is an impressive AI achievement, it is not without its limitations. Its responses are based on patterns found in the data it was trained on, rather than genuine understanding or consciousness. As such, it can occasionally produce incorrect or misleading answers.

ChatGPT also lacks real-world knowledge after 2021, meaning that any events, discoveries, or changes in the cultural, scientific, or socio-political landscape after that year are unknown to it.

As the technology improves, the applications could be immense. For now, ChatGPT represents an AI with significant conversational abilities, as well as clear technological constraints. Understanding both its capabilities and limitations is important as this technology develops.

Continue Learning About AI

These insights should give you a foundational understanding of what ChatGPT and AI are all about. And Treehouse offers an array of intro-level AI courses to get you started. Remember, this is a rapidly evolving field, and what we know today could be just the tip of the iceberg. Stay curious, keep discovering, and don’t hesitate to engage with these incredible technologies. As you familiarize yourself with AI’s capabilities and limitations, you’ll be better prepared for the exciting developments that lie ahead.

Dive into the world of AI with us and become an informed participant in the future of technology. Sign up for a free 7-day Treehouse subscription to learn more about ChatGPT, AI, and more. Happy exploring!


Learning with Treehouse for only 30 minutes a day can teach you the skills needed to land the job that you've been dreaming about.

Get Started

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

man working on his laptop

Are you ready to start learning?

Learning with Treehouse for only 30 minutes a day can teach you the skills needed to land the job that you've been dreaming about.

Start a Free Trial
woman working on her laptop