AI chatbot subscriptions – worth $20 a month?

Despite all the reality checks and cautions about AI chatbots, general discussion & development continues to move ahead, discounting worst-case scenarios. Particularly big tech rollouts of new versions – with some new names – for public-facing chatbots.

And AI startups even pitching the promise of empathetic-like AI customer-facing agents to businesses (delivering at least better conversations than with many outsourced customer support services, eh).

So, new choices, as this Wired article reminded me, for AI chatbot subscriptions – versus the lesser but free versions. What do you get for $20 a month, eh? Better stochastic parrots? Less hallucination?

And what about all that private data being collected in interactions?

The stock market continues to bet heavily on AI profitability.

• Wired > “ChatGPT vs. Gemini: Which AI Chatbot Subscription Is Right for You?” by Reece Rogers (Feb 15, 2024) – While everyone wants your $20 per month for access to their best AI chatbot, is the free option okay for most people?

Key takeaways

  • Most people are fine with the free option.
  • Don’t immediately trust the output.
  • Yes, there are privacy trade-offs (check the opt-in / out default settings, eh).
  • English is prioritized for interactions in most cases.
  • The underlying technology is likely to be foundational to the next wave of web browsers, search engines, and operating systems.

Google is the latest company to offer one of its best AI chatbots as a subscription product. In early February, the company began offering access to Gemini Advanced for $20 a month. In doing so, Google was following the precedent set by OpenAI, which sells access to its GPT-4-powered chatbot for $20 a month. Additionally, Microsoft sells subscriptions to its top tool, Copilot Pro (which is also powered by ChatGPT-4), for the same price. But, do you really need to factor another pricey subscription into your budget?

The article provides an overview of what’s included and the outputs, as for office applications: summarizing transcripts of meetings and interviews, crafting email correspondence, captioning photos, composing invitations, assisting short-form creative writing.

  • Gemini Advanced from Google
  • ChatGPT Plus from OpenAI
  • Copilot Pro from Microsoft


  1. Balloon heads

    So, this article is a caution regarding businesses wishfully rolling out AI customer-facing agents – whether to alleviate resource shortfalls or explore high tech. In this case, an airline was sort of winging it. Piecemeal. And the liability thing.

    • Wired > “Air Canada Has to Honor a Refund Policy Its Chatbot Made Up” by Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica (Feb 17, 2024) – Air Canada essentially argued, “the chatbot is a separate legal entity that is responsible for its own actions,” a court order said.

    The chatbot provided inaccurate information, encouraging [passenger] Moffatt to book a flight immediately and then request a refund within 90 days. … Unhappy with this resolution, Moffatt refused the coupon and filed a small claims complaint in Canada’s Civil Resolution Tribunal.

    Tribunal member Christopher Rivers, who decided the case in favor of Moffatt, called Air Canada’s defense “remarkable.”

    … Rivers found that Moffatt had “no reason” to believe that one part of Air Canada’s website would be accurate and another would not.

    Air Canada “does not explain why customers should have to double-check information found in one part of its website on another part of its website,” Rivers wrote.

    When Ars visited Air Canada’s website on Friday, there appeared to be no chatbot support available, suggesting that Air Canada has disabled the chatbot.

  2. Thinking and writing

    What’s the relationship between thinking -> technology -> comprehension (reasoning) -> writing and effective communication? To broader goals, both personal and collective. To deep discussion of issues (beyond either-or political speech). What happens when large language models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, are standard academic and research tools?

    • Caltech > News > “Large Language Models in the Classroom” by Cynthia Eller (February 14, 2024)

    In the fall 2023 term, Professor of Philosophy Frederick Eberhardt took the somewhat controversial step of allowing his students full use of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT in their written assignments. His Ethics & AI class not only wrestled with ethical concerns raised by artificial intelligence but experimented with the use of text-based generative AI to better understand how these tools work and what a future world that includes them might look like.

    Key points

    • Responsibility for the correctness and appropriateness of any language or images created by a generative AI tool.
    • Disclosure / detection of use of generative AI.
    • Developing / modeling writing skills.
    • Regulation of generative AI (as a policy question).

    By the middle of the term, Eberhardt says, “we hit a plateau with several students returning to doing more of their writing on their own, while LLMs were used now principally as sophisticated search engines.” At the end of the term, Eberhardt “received several outstanding term projects, that, to the best of my judgment, were more than either the students or the machine could have done on their own.

  3. Red is gray, and yellow white ... who decides which is right

    Oops, Gemini’s not so advanced, eh.

    • PC Mag > “Google Pauses Gemini’s Image Generation of People to Fix Historical Inaccuracies” by Kate Irwin (Feb 21, 2024) – Do AI-generated images have to be historically accurate, down to the racial identity of the characters created?

    UPDATE 2/22: Early Thursday morning, Google said it had disabled Gemini’s ability to generate any images of people. A quick PCMag test of Gemini on a Mac using the Chrome browser today delivered the following message when Gemini was asked to create an image of a person, historical or otherwise: “We are working to improve Gemini’s ability to generate images of people. We expect this feature to return soon and will notify you in release updates when it does.”

Comments are closed.