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ChatGPT moves to cash in on its fame as OpenAI launches plan to charge monthly fee for premium subscribers

January 23, 2023, 5:04 PM UTC
OpenAI has launched a subscription service to give users premium access to its instantly famous AI-powered chatbot called ChatGPT.
Jonathan Raa—NurPhoto via Getty Images

ChatGPT is among the biggest sensations in the field of artificial intelligence to date, but the AI-powered chatbot doesn’t come for free. 

Running the software is tipped to cost parent company OpenAI a small fortune every month. That’s why CEO Sam Altman is now following through on warnings that he will eventually have to start charging for the service—at least when it comes to his most dedicated users.

For a monthly fee of $42 per month, customers can use the service even when demand is high, enjoy a faster response speed and gain priority access to new features.

Thanks to its ability to produce full blocks of text that realistically imitate human thinking and speech, the chatbot endowed with GPT-3 language processing capabilities has become a meme itself. Recently it even managed to pass an MBA exam for the prestigious Wharton business school.

By rolling out a premium subscription price, OpenAI is now cashing in on its stratospheric fame.

With the intelligent tool gaining one million users within its first five days, a monthly fee should incentivize regular users that rely on its service to share a portion of the exorbitant cost.

“We will have to monetize it somehow at some point,” Altman posted to Twitter on December 5th. “The compute costs are eye-watering.”

Tom Goldstein, an associate professor with the University of Maryland estimated the cost of running the highly advanced chatbot at $100,000 per day, or $3 million a month.

That prince sum is even after Goldstein factored lower expenses thanks to its long-term arrangement with partner Microsoft, whose Azure cloud computing service provides the necessary hardware.

The news of the premium service comes just as the Seattle-based software giant struck a deal on Monday for a “multi-year, multi-billion investment” in OpenAI that follows on the heels of previous times it provided capital in 2019 and 2021.

Leaked to the press earlier this month, the investment is widely interpreted as an attempt by Microsoft to finally gain an edge with its Bing search engine in the hopes of ending Google’s dominance over Internet search terms and make itself more attractive to user data-hungry advertisers.

“In this next phase of our partnership with OpenAI, we will deliver the best AI infrastructure, models and toolchain for customers to safely and responsibly build and run their applications on Azure,” wrote Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Monday. 

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