Towards the end of each year the Wikimedia foundation collates a list of the most popular Wikipedia articles, and it usually makes for interesting reading as a reflection of what people were generally most interested in learning about in the year nearly passed. This time it’s ChatGPT’s turn to top the tables, and given that it’s believed to be the fastest-growing consumer application in history that should come as no surprise.
It’s perhaps a more tasteful result than the year previous, as top of the list in 2022 was…Jeffrey Dahmer, which was in fairness a reflection of the immensely popular Netflix TV series bearing the notorious serial killer’s name.
The ChatGPT Wikipedia article racked up an impressive 49,490,406 pageviews to date, putting it head and shoulders above its nearest competitor, the slightly macabre “Deaths in 2023”. Below that resides the article on the 2023 Cricket World Cup, the Indian Premier league (also cricket), and Oppenheimer (film). Quite an eclectic mix this year it seems, although given Wikipedia’s status as the internet’s go-to for general knowledge, perhaps not all that surprising.
It would be fair to call ChatGPT’s success something of a cultural phenomenon at this point, as some of the statistics surrounding it are staggering. It’s estimated that OpenAI’s chatbot reached 100 million monthly active users in January, just two months after its launch, although traffic has dropped substantially as the year has gone on.
Certainly there seems to be something about this iteration of an AI chatbot for the masses that seems to have caught the cultural zeitgeist in 2023. And while other companies scramble to get into the AI game for themselves, OpenAI should perhaps be congratulated for causing, well, such a big fuss with its release. Even if its GPT-3.5 large language model was capably beaten in a recent Turing test study by a chatbot from the 1960s…
AI ethics and the widespread proliferation of AI tools are still something under heavy debate, but if all these figures are to be taken at face value, the public interest is most definitely there.