One of the big drawbacks of talking to an AI chatbot is that everything resets once the conversation is done. It won’t remember who you are or what you previously queried. This is by design, for privacy reasons, but it really hampers the tech from growing into a true digital assistant that knows you well enough to actually help with stuff.
OpenAI is trying to fix this issue and is finally adding a memory feature to ChatGPT. This will allow the bot to remember important personal details from prior conversations and apply that context to current queries.
Here’s how it works. You can actually tell ChatGPT to remember something specific, like that your child is allergic to peanuts or how you prefer to sign emails. It’ll automatically store this data as requested and apply it to future conversations and tasks.
Beyond that, the system will pick up stuff over time. It’ll naturally store data as you perform queries. The goal is for the chatbot to become smarter and, more importantly, attuned to your specific needs.
Additionally, each custom GPT will have its own unique memory. OpenAI gives Books GPT as an example, as the bot will remember which books you’ve already read and what genres you like. The GPT Store is filled with unique chatbots that would absolutely benefit from this memory feature.
This doesn’t seem too different from how the internet already works. Apps store personal data, as do websites and social networks. This data is then leveraged to create a unique user profile, which is used to develop personalized algorithms. However, there are significant privacy concerns with the standard way of doing things that absolutely carry over to this memory feature.
To that end, OpenAI says users will have control over ChatGPT’s memory and that the system has been trained to not automatically remember certain sensitive topics, like health data. The company says you can simply tell the bot to forget something and it will. There’s also a Manage Memory tab included in the settings for more nuanced adjustments. If the whole idea skeeves you out, just shut the feature off entirely.
This is a beta service, for now, and is rolling out to a “small number” of ChatGPT free and Plus users this week. The company will share plans for a broader release in the future. In the meantime, you can rewatch the movie Her to see where this all ends.