OpenAI has announced an update to ChatGPT that allows users to enter custom instructions for ongoing and future conversations.
The new feature will be rolling out as a beta for Plus users and is set to roll out to everyone in the coming weeks.
Custom Instructions: A New Way to Communicate
Previously, ChatGPT treated each new conversation as if it were starting over, without any context from previous chats.
The new custom instructions feature allows you to save your preferences and information in all conversations.
OpenAI says it is introducing this feature in response to user feedback:
“Through our discussions with users in 22 countries, we have deepened our understanding of the essential role of controllability, which allows our models to effectively reflect the different contexts and individual needs of each person.”
OpenAI provided some examples of how custom directives could be used:
- A teacher might specify that they create a 3rd grade science lesson plan to have ChatGPT provide age-appropriate answers without being reminded.
- A developer could specify their preferred programming language so that ChatGPT defaults to that language.
- Someone planning a meal for a large family might find that six servings are required, so grocery lists take that into account.
Additionally, custom directives also apply to ChatGPT plugins. For example, if you use a restaurant reservation plugin, it can take your location information into account when suggesting restaurants for booking.
Beta testing and security measures
OpenAI is aware that during the beta testing period, ChatGPT may not correctly follow or apply custom instructions.
The system could miss or misinterpret certain user instructions. However, OpenAI has security measures in place.
The moderation API prevents the saving of statements that violate OpenAI’s content guidelines.
Additionally, ChatGPT may refuse or ignore instructions that would result in responses that violate these policies.
How to use custom instructions
To enable custom instructions, click your name on the web → Settings → Beta Features → Enable Custom Instructions.
On iOS, go to Settings → What’s New → Enable Custom Instructions. Custom instructions appear in settings.
After you enable custom instructions, they appear in the menu when you click your name.
Select it and you will see two text boxes where you can answer the following questions:
- What do you want ChatGPT to know about you to provide better answers?
- How should ChatGPT react?
Clicking in each box will bring up suggestions for different instructions to type in.
Click the “Save” button below when you’re done.
ChatGPT can now remember user preferences and adjust responses accordingly.
Custom instructions, while promising, are still in beta testing, so bugs may arise.
When appropriate safeguards are in place, custom instructions represent an interesting advance towards more personalized and helpful AI interactions.
Featured image: Diego Thomazini/Shutterstock