Like It or Not, Automakers Are Exploring ChatGPT

What could possibly go wrong?

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Is ChatGPT coming soon to a car near you?
Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

To hear some people tell it, ChatGPT will be the next technology to have a seismic impact, upending professions and forever transforming the way we use devices. Others are less convinced, pointing to its penchant for getting things not quite right. That said, its next destination might not be your computer or cellphone, but rather another ubiquitous location: inside your car.

As Reuters reports (via Autoblog), General Motors is exploring ways to integrate ChatGPT into its vehicles. GM isn’t the only automaker to have this idea; last month, MotorTrend reported that Mercedes-Benz was also experimenting with ChatGPT functionality. This news begs a few questions, not the least of which is: what exactly will ChatGPT do when it’s living in your car?

In the case of GM, it sounds like the goal involves being more flexible as new tech is developed. “This shift is not just about one single capability like the evolution of voice commands, but instead means that customers can expect their future vehicles to be far more capable and fresh overall when it comes to emerging technologies,” GM Vice President Scott Miller told Reuters.

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What a car-based ChatGPT might look like (or sound like) in practice remains less defined. MotorTrend notes that Mercedes’s ChatGPT functionality allowed for drivers to get restaurant recommendations, for example. That seems fine, but not necessarily game-changing.

Still, at least some automotive executives are betting big on this particular technology. “ChatGPT is going to be in everything,” Miller said. And while it’s not hard to see the appeal of ChatGPT for drivers, the last few years should also inspire caution about declarations that new technology will be ubiquitous. Remember how blockchain was going to change everything? Remember when the metaverse was going to be everywhere?

That isn’t to say that these technologies don’t have a purpose and won’t be useful in some roles. But there’s also a difference between being useful and being essential — and right now, it seems a little premature to declare ChatGPT the latter.

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