Adventures in AI (Part 3)

So as described in the last post, using Microsoft’s Azure to produce a knowledgeable and responsive chat service was great, except for the cost. Meanwhile, OpenAI (the producer of ChatGPT) opened up their system with two new options: Custom ChatGPTs in which you can add your own knowledgebase much like I did in Azure and OpenAI Assistants, which does something similar but only as an API (it doesn’t use the ChatGPT interface, you have to design your own).

So when Custom ChatGPTs were announced there was a huge flurry of them put together and everyone began to share them. And it’s a great idea — except you’re limited to 10 files to create your knowledgebase and users have to have ChatGPT Pro (20$US a month). That’s not going to be a solution for us — we have WAY more knowledge to provide, and the objective is to offer this to all Ontario teachers, not just those who already are invested in ChatGPT. Now, OpenAI is planning to have a market of CustomGPTs so that people can make money from them, but until there’s marked growth in the knowledge-base and an opening to anyone, CustomGPTs are not our solution.

The OpenAI Assistants, though, push that limit to 20 files. Not the best, but 20>10! And we will be able to have it pull in additional content through more programming. I was able to push all the Abacus and Gazette (the OAME journals) into 3 files and have done the same with the Ontario Curricula so there’s plenty of space for additional content in the Assistant. And already, it’s producing great responses.

I haven’t had a chance to play with the Code Interpreter (I thought that was important to add since Coding is a major addition to K8 and Grade 9 Math courses in Ontario.) It can read, write and understand code. Retrieval just means that the Assistant will pull from from our files that we’ve uploaded – or allow OAME Members to add additional files in their prompts (this user-upload has not be turned on yet!) Functions is where we will start pulling in other services — I think there are a lot of options here, from a variety of math, science and data sources. It would be REALLY nice to pull in Maple (, say. I’m sure I can pull in WolframAlpha, but this is meant to be an Ontario-centric service, after all 🙂

I did have to use a service (BotPress) to act as the interface for the OpenAI Assistant test (since it doesn’t have its own interface). Long term, we will hard-code it into the OAME website ( but for testing it works well to track everything on my side — I don’t want to bother the OAME web-team with log entries, trouble-shooting, etc until we’re ready to launch publicly. So, today, I sent access off to the OAME Communication Committee and ISOMA’s Executive and we’ll see how things turn out.

Now, there is a cost involved with using OpenAI (& BotPress) so this is also a consideration. However, there hasn’t been the daily cost incurred just for existing that we found punishing from Microsoft. I was up to 100$US and it was only me asking test questions over 2 weeks. That wasn’t sustainable. So far with OpenAI and a lot more questions, I’m at just under 2$US with the same amount of content.

There’s a large difference in cost between ChatGPT4 and ChatGPT3.5 — but there’s also a large difference in the quality, depth and phrasing of the responses between the two engines. I’ve tried to use them both equally and it’s no question that I prefer 4 (except for paying for it!) Right now, in the trial with OAME/ISOMA folks, I’m going to be using 4 and, with fingers crossed, hope that the price drops considerablly before public launch.

I’m really at the point that I’m rather excited with the outcome. The responses I’m getting from the service are very clearly Ontario-based and reference content explicitly from OAME. I look forward to this being of great use to OAME members.

MyAskAI also launched their own version of CustomGPTs that tied in all the content I had stored in MyAskAI and worked through CustomGPT. It works (though is noticeably slower at creating answers that involve our content). And, as stated before, users would have to pay 20$US/month to access it. Unless there’s other developments on this front, we’ll be pausing MyAskAI use. It is, though, a great option for dedicated Chatbots that don’t require external knowledge (say, like an HR Policy chatbot, or an OAME’2024 conference information chatbot… hint hint).

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