Is the gold rush over? ChatGPT and other AIs see a drop in user numbers


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In brief: Is the AI revolution losing pace already? According to new figures, the number of people visiting the ChatGPT website has fallen for the first time ever. Could this mean interest in chatbots is waning, or are there other factors behind the downturn?

It was reported back in February that ChatGPT had become the fastest-growing "app" of all time after adding 100 million users in just two months – though it was recently beaten by Meta's Threads.

However, the Washington Post reports that the number of people downloading the app and visiting ChatGPT's website fell last month. According to data from internet firm Similarweb, mobile and desktop traffic was down 9.7% in June compared to the previous month. Moreover, data from Sensor Tower shows that downloads of the iPhone app that launched in May have steadily fallen since peaking in early June.

Similarweb's figures also show falling visitor numbers for Microsoft Bing, Google Bard, and Character.AI, suggesting the trend expands beyond just ChatGPT.

Generative AI has become the tech industry buzzword of 2023. Companies are rushing to implement it into their products, even when it's not a good fit, and there are constant reports about job losses and fears over rogue AIs destroying humanity.

But despite companies wanting to use AI, we've seen plenty of public anger whenever it appears. News that the opening sequence of Secret Invasion was partly AI-generated brought a slew of outcry, as did its use by Myst-developer Cyan in its latest game.

Interestingly, a survey in May showed that while most Americans have heard of ChatGPT, only a few had used it.

Several theories explaining the drop-off have been put forward. It could be that people have grown weary of the AI hallucinating and generating false information seemingly out of thin air. A drop in quality that could be due to OpenAI trying to reduce the costs of running the bot.

New regulations and rules surrounding AI in Europe, the multiple lawsuits, privacy concerns, and students (who use the tool to write papers) going on their summer breaks could also explain the declining user numbers. It could even be that the guardrails put in place by OpenAI have pushed some people toward uncensored alternative AIs.

Fewer generative AI users doesn't mean that the industry is going to disappear, but it could reflect a slowdown in the hype surrounding these tools. And that could ultimately be a good thing for everyone.

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The problem is that you can't measure this with only the users that visit the webpage. OpenAI API (ChatGPT 3.5 and 4) consumption is growing and is getting into more and more services. So no, I don't think that the hype is dead, is just that the way we interact with it is changing.