AI: OpenAI's simpler 'less is more' feature. RTZ #314

AI: OpenAI's simpler 'less is more' feature. RTZ #314

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the best user features. To let them do more with less friction. Get stuff out of the way, so they can get what they came for. This principle has served companies like Google, Amazon, and other major tech companies well. OpenAI seems to following in their foot steps in these early days of the AI Tech Wave.

OpenAI today announced that they’re “making it easier for people to experience the benefits of AI without needing to sign-up”:

“Start using ChatGPT instantly”.

A splash screen that instantly asks “How can I help you today?”

Techcrunch has more:

OpenAI is making its flagship conversational AI accessible to everyone, even people who haven’t bothered making an account.”

For now it’s ChatGPT powered by OpenAI’s older GPT-3.5, not the class-leading GPT-4 out now. No multi-trillion parameter driven new models advancing GPT-4’s 1.8 trillion plus parameters. That’ll likely come soon enough with GPT-5 or whatever it’ll be called. Not clear if GPT-4 and beyond will get the ‘instant’ feature via ChatGPT.

No today, it’s just the most basic feature: Start using ChatGPT with GPT-3.5, without any login fuss.

As Search Engine Journal pithily explains:

“What’s significant is that it is one step in the direction of eating Google’s lunch by fulfilling Google’s own mission statement that prescribes organizing “the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

It’s important to remember how Google too focused on simplicity of use with a ‘less is more’ philosophy over two decades ago, as Fast Company reminds us here from over a decade ago:

How Google Wins Over Users By Giving Them Less

“Google didn’t just stumble into its home page design; it didn’t arrive at simplicity by default. The company actually developed a rigorous system that imposed tight restrictions upon what could and could not be added to the page. Its leaders had to stand firm against Google’s own creative and well-meaning engineers. And in some cases they even had to defy the wishes of customers.”

“This ongoing task of holding the line against complexity–which often involves being willing to “just say no” to additional features, design flourishes, and other potential complications–often fell to Marissa Mayer, until recently the company’s director of consumer web products. When we spoke to Mayer about how she managed this, she surprised us by using a word you tend to hear from theatrical casting directors, not tech managers. Mayer explained that any potential new feature hoping to get on the Google home page must go through an “audition.”

Another story from Inc. a few years ago provides additional color on the simplicity strategy that helped make google Google. With over ten billion searches a day today.

Amazon too in did a similar thing also over two decades ago, with Jeff Bezos innovating to get customers to buy things with ‘1-click’. And even got an unprecedented patent for the process. As this piece from Wharton reminds us:

“September 12, 2017, marked the end of an era as the patent expired for Amazon’s “1-Click” button for ordering. The idea that consumers could enter in their billing, shipping and payment information just once and then simply click a button to buy something going forward was unheard of when Amazon secured the patent in 1999, and it represented a breakthrough for the idea of hassle-free online shopping.”

“When Amazon first patented 1-Click, e-commerce was in its formative years and Amazon was primarily an online bookseller. In late 1999, it sued rival Barnes & Noble alleging patent infringement of the 1-Click method. The lawsuit was settled in 2002, but Apple began licensing the technology in 2000 for use on its website and the iTunes platform.”

The rest as they say, was history. Simplicity was destiny.

OpenAI is taking a page from the same book. While the company is on a torrid pace of innovation in 2024, with OpenAI text to video Sora, Voice Engine, and the soon-to-com GPT-5, it’s keeping it’s eye on the ball. On user accessibility. No login required. Stay tuned.

(NOTE: The discussions here are for information purposes only, and not meant as investment advice at any time. Thanks for joining us here)

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