OpenAI shifts focus to software agents that can operate your device

    Photo: Koshiro K/

    Microsoft-backed OpenAI, a well-known name in the field of generative AI, is developing a new kind of software that can automate complex web tasks by controlling a user’s device.

    The Information, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that the new assistant software, also known as agents, will be able to perform web tasks such as gathering public data about a group of companies, planning trips, and booking flights, based on human commands.

    These assistants will also be able to move data between documents, create expense reports, and do other tasks on the user’s device.

    OpenAI is shifting its focus from large-scale language models, such as GPT-4 and DALL-E, which can generate natural language and images, to software agents, which could give it an advantage over other AI players like Google and Meta.

    AI players like OpenAI and Meta are going for the ambitious vision of creating artificial general intelligence (AGI) which is the ability of a machine to do any intellectual task that a human can and these new assistant agent software are a step in that direction.

    Big players like OpenAI and Meta are focusing on developing AGI.

    If properly used, the agents will boost productivity by automating repetitive tasks. Conor Grennan, Dean of students at New York University’s Stern School of Business, told The Information that “the agents OpenAI is developing likely have the power to transform our digital workflows, making complex tasks easier than ever before.”

    However, software agents also pose potential security and privacy risks, as they could access sensitive information and act on behalf of the user without consent.

    The report mentions that OpenAI is making efforts to ensure that users have control and consent over their agents and that their agents are transparent and accountable. However, it remains to be seen how these efforts will translate into practice once the software is launched. Only time will tell.

    As of now, the organisation has been testing it internally and with some external partners. It is not clear when Agent will be available to the public, or how much it will cost.

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