ChatGPT has quickly become one of the most popular AI tools, but how will it affect web scraping moving forward? Find out here.
By Victor Bolu @March, 22 2023
When Instagram appeared on the market, it amassed 1 million users in just 2.5 months. An impressive increase in user growth, until you consider that ChatGPT took only five days to do the same.
ChatGPT has taken the world by storm. Reactions to this revolutionary chatbot have ranged from awe to existential terror. In the few short months of its publicly available existence, the AI has already sparked vigorous conversation about the industries it will disrupt forever.
But what's often missing from the conversation is how ChatGPT will fundamentally change search engines. Namely, web scraping.
In this guide, we aim to discuss what ChatGPT can do, and how it will affect the future of web scraping.
ChatGPT is a type of LLM, or large language model. Contrary to popular belief, there is no risk of ChatGPT becoming sentient. All ChatGPT is doing is predicting the next most likely word to appear in a sequence.
This allows ChatGPT to produce believable, human-like text in seconds. Users are able to have conversations and ask very specific questions. It can do almost anything you can imagine, from crafting poetry, to cracking jokes, to writing lines of code for a specific type of program.
As you can imagine, the possibilities for a chatbot of this calibre are endless. The biggest concern that many tech enthusiasts have is that this will irrevocably change how people search the Internet.
Instead of going to Google and digging through articles for an answer to your question, you can ask a chatbot and get the exact answer you are searching for in seconds. Further, this chatbot is paving the way for a new future of AI content and AI web scraping.
At the moment of writing, ChatGPT does not source its answers from the Internet. This is intentional on the part of the developers, who want to avoid the spread of misinformation. ChatGPT uses a curated repository of training data that only goes up until the year 2021.
However, a competitor to ChatGPT exists in Microsoft's Bing copilot chatbot. When users ask this chatbot a question, the chatbot searches the Internet and provides the sources for its answers. It's likely that ChatGPT, when it connects to the Internet one day, will have similar usage.
That said, there is a workaround. ChatGPT can write the necessary scripts that you need to scrape a website.
ChatGPT has already begun to disrupt the programming industry. Users can ask the chatbot to create a web scraping script from scratch. It can customize the script to your needs, fix errors in the script, and suggest improvements to make it leaner.
Granted, many users have noticed that the scripts are far from perfect. A layman with no programming knowledge won't notice the mistakes that ChatGPT creates. There's a good chance that one will unintentionally program common mistakes when creating a web script.
Programming is a highly complicated field, and we are in the early days of chatbots. It is impossible to say just how much ChatGPT and its peers will disrupt the developer industry at the time of writing.
Further, as mentioned above, we don't yet know how ChatGPT will affect search engine usage. But there is a good chance that users will be able to pull specific information from websites with a simple chatbot query. We may not even need data scraping in the first place.
You have two options here: you can have ChatGPT write you a script for web scraping, or you can feed it your data and ask for analysis. Since ChatGPT is already very powerful, you should be able to glean important information from the data you already have.
ChatGPT requires no training to use. Simply type in natural language any question you have and copy over your data. Then press enter and ChatGPT will do the rest of the work.
Of course, there will be differences between these two methods of web scraping. Here are the differences between traditional web scraping and ChatGPT.
Traditional web scraping is and will always be the superior choice, period. Professionals do not use chatbots for this process, and likely will not for the foreseeable future. Benefits include:
To be clear, ChatGPT cannot web scrape for you. However, it can do some of the legwork needed to do web scraping. Benefits of ChatGPT include:
As incredible of a tool as ChatGPT is, it is still in its alpha phase and therefore a long way from full release--meaning it won't be doing web scraping anytime soon. Here are some of the limitations you should keep in mind when using ChatGPT:
ChatGPT, in its few short months of public availability, has made everyone rethink the prevalence of AI in our modern society. For those who seek to automate web scraping, it may provide a valuable tool that even laymen can use with these. However, ChatGPT is in its early days and still requires significant development before it becomes a reliable tool.
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