The latest advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the internet by storm for its ability to do anything from write a school essay to successfully dispute a parking fine.
ChatGPT, a free (for now) AI platform launched on December 1 by American company OpenAI, has some claiming online it would rival or surpass Google as a search engine.
Asking the technology to describe itself, ChatGPT says it is: "a chatbot trained using GPT-3, which is a state-of-the-art language model developed by OpenAI. It is capable of generating human-like text in response to user input. It can be used to create chatbots that can engage in natural conversations with users on a variety of topics."
Reaching one million users within its first five days, ChatGPT can explain scientific theories in a conversation-type style, provide historical facts, simplify complicated text into dot points and write your work emails.
So, what exactly is AI and how big an advancement is ChatGPT?
Melbourne University Professor of computer science Tim Miller said AI is defined by "machine learning".
"It's learning relationships between things, expressing them as statistics and then using those statistics to make inferences about new things," Professor Miller said.
Professor Miller said the technology used by ChatGPT was not new but the pool of information from which it is drawing and the size of the machine learning program that creates its output are "huge".
"That's the big breakthrough - the amount of data they're able to consume," he said.
Social media users are reporting the creative and numerous ways ChatGPT is being put to use.
Uses include successfully disputing a parking fine, writing a break up text, successfully passing the bar exam, seeking practical ways to manage anxiety and re-writing an entire novel.
However, Professor Miller said the claim that the technology will be the death of Google is a step too far with two critical points of difference.
The first is that the platform does not provide a source of information for its findings, meaning double-checking using search engines may be necessary.
"The second point is that it only really gives one answer, whereas the search engine will give you a list of sites that might have different viewpoints and different answers," Professor Miller said.
And while ChatGPT is up to date in several ways, it does not directly access the internet like Google.
For example, when asked: "Who is Australia's prime minister?"
It responded: "As of December 2022, Australia's prime minister is Scott Morrison. He has been the prime minister since August 2018".
"For factual things like 'who is that', 'what is that', it's actually pretty good," Professor Miller said.
"It's the second you need to have any type of insight, or any type of understanding of the world, it tends to break down."
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman tweeted about the technology's limitations.
"ChatGPT is incredibly limited, but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness," Mr Altman said.
"It's a mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now. It's a preview of progress; we have lots of work to do on robustness and truthfulness."
So popular has the platform been that users were unable to access it on Monday morning due to "exceptionally high demand".
So, how far will we see AI technology go?
"It's difficult to say - if you'd asked me three years ago, I would have thought something like ChatGPT was 10 or 20 years away," Professor Miller said.
"We keep getting surprised by the things [AI] can solve but we can break it very easily and fool it very quickly.
"Human-level abilities are still a long, long way away, if they come at all."