🌊 OpenAI Playground

When and if you should use OpenAI Playground instead of ChatGPT directly

Hey — It’s Hussein 👋

When I first started writing this AI newsletter, I made a commitment to myself and my readers (now 5,284 strong 🙌) that I would focus on giving actionable advice based on my 18 years in tech.

What I would not do is add to the pile of gimmicks, clickbait, the-world-is-over-if-you-don’t-do-this-now, etc., type posts and articles. I hope you find this true. If not, reply and call me out.

Today, I want to focus on the OpenAI Playground. You may have seen some posts and articles about how using the Playground is how you become a ChatGPT Pro or why you should drop everything and learn to use the Playground.

While there are some truths as to when the Playground is better to use than ChatGPT directly, for 90-ish% of us, ChatGPT Plus is a much better system to use.

Let’s get into the details.

Estimated read time: 4 minutes 6 seconds.

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What is the OpenAI Playground?

The OpenAI Playground was released before ChatGPT as a way for developers to try out the different OpenAI models like GPT-3 and now GPT-4 and get a code snippet they can add to their product to integrate their products with the OpenAI APIs.

Why use the OpenAI Playground?

There are three key reasons to use the Playground over ChatGPT directly.

1. Control temperature

I touched on temperature in a quick article I wrote on the 10 AI terms you should know. Temperature is a control over how much creative room you want to give the AI when giving you a response.

The lower the temperature, the more precise the AI’s responses will be, as you go higher, the AI will be more creative, if you dial this setting up really high, the answers can sometimes be completely incomprehensible.

An example of when using a lower temperature is important is using the AI to answer questions based on a PDF, Legal Document, or even your custom service manuals. These are situations when you want exact responses or none versus letting the AI fill in the blanks.

Sometime this year, OpenAI will release ChatGPT for Business, there is a high likelihood that temperature control will be a setting they include in the release.

2. You are a developer

If you are building an ChatGPT Wrapper product or a GPT-4 powered app, you will most likely want to use the Playground to tweak your prompts, try different temperatures, tweak addition settings like the number of characters to respond with, stop words, etc..

You can save prompts as presets as you work on them to refer to them later, you can get a code snippet to drop into your code, and you can quickly iterate your prompts to get to the results you are looking for which helps save a ton of development time.

I won’t cover all of the settings available in the Playground, Zapier has a great article that goes through each setting (no need to repeat here).

3. Greater privacy

One big benefit of using the Playground is that OpenAI stated that they don’t train their models on prompts coming from the Playground. This is a great benefit but you can also get to it by turning off history in ChatGPT which will get at the same thing. You lose the history feature but you don’t get that in the Playground anyways (unless you specifically save the prompt as a preset).

When is ChatGPT better to use?

For most users, ChatGPT is much more convenient and simpler to use. If you don’t need the features listed above, then using ChatGPT directly is much better. If you are looking to get more out of ChatGPT, I highly recommend you upgrade to ChatGPT Plus to get access to GPT4, Advanced Data Analysis (used to be called Code Interpreter), and Plugins.

A few more specific reasons to not use the OpenAI Playground:

1. Cost

The Playground is not free to use. You pay for each call, the cost depends on the number of token (think number of words) you use. When you first sign up, you get a $5 credit which is enough to test the system but not enough to make the Playground a tool you can use every day.

2. Missing features

Advanced Data Analysis, Plugins, Chat History, Custom Instructions are all not available in the Playground.

3. Not intended for consumers

The Playground is not intended for consumers to use, it is a developer tool. So the features you see are built to help developers use the API better and not for consumers to use ChatGPT better.

On my end, I’ve only used the Playground a handful of times, maybe because I was curious about it and also when I built a talk to your PDF app because I wanted to understand some trust documents I had better. Otherwise, I continue to use ChatGPT Plus directly.

See you next Wednesday — Hussein ✌️

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