OpenAI has announced an update to ChatGPT, allowing users to input custom instructions for ongoing and future conversations.
The new feature is rolling out in beta for Plus users, with plans to expand to all in the coming weeks.
Custom Instructions: A New Way to Communicate
Until now, ChatGPT would treat each new conversation as starting from scratch without any context from previous chats.
The new custom instructions feature will allow it to remember your preferences and information across conversations.
OpenAI says it’s rolling out this feature in response to users’ feedback:
“Through our conversations with users across 22 countries, we’ve deepened our understanding of the essential role steerability plays in enabling our models to effectively reflect the diverse contexts and unique needs of each person.”
OpenAI provided some examples of how custom instructions could be used:
- A teacher could specify that they’re crafting a 3rd-grade science lesson plan so ChatGPT provides age-appropriate responses without being reminded.
- A developer could indicate their preferred coding language so ChatGPT defaults to that language.
- Someone meal planning for a large family could note the need for six servings, so grocery lists account for that.
Additionally, custom instructions extend to ChatGPT plugins. If you use a restaurant reservation plugin, for example, it can factor in your location information when suggesting restaurants to book.
Beta Testing & Safety Measures
OpenAI recognizes that during the beta testing period, there may be times when ChatGPT doesn’t correctly follow or apply custom instructions.
The system could overlook or misinterpret specific instructions from users. However, OpenAI has safety measures in place.
The Moderation API prevents saving instructions that go against OpenAI’s content policies.
Additionally, ChatGPT can refuse or disregard instructions that would generate responses violating those policies.
How to Use Custom Instructions
To enable custom instructions, if you’re using the web, click on your name → Settings → Beta features → Opt into Custom instructions.
On iOS, go to Settings → New Features → Turn on Custom instructions. Custom instructions will appear in settings.
After enabling custom instructions, it will appear in the menu when you click on your name.
Select it, and you’ll see two text boxes where you can answer the following questions:
- What would you like ChatGPT to know about you to provide better responses?
- How would you like ChatGPT to respond?
When you click into each box, you’ll see suggestions for various instructions you can enter.
Click the Save button at the bottom when you’re done.
ChatGPT can now remember user preferences and tailor responses accordingly.
While promising, custom instructions remain in beta testing so errors may occur.
With appropriate safety measures in place, custom instructions present an intriguing advancement towards more personalized and helpful AI interactions.
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