ChatGPT introduces subs, Google’s Bard stumbles on launch and Microsoft Teams guns for ZOOM with AI smarts. The state of consumer AI

Edwin Chabuka Avatar

This past month has been hectic with news on AI. Everyone from every angle is scrambling to have some stake in the new wave of AI chats and imagery and some are making a few missteps along the way. So consider this one an update to what’s going on in the world of AI.

ChatGPT Plus for US$20 a month

OpenAI’s ChatGPT is what made AI cool and it’s been recruiting the public in a beta program that most of us were a part of in some shape or form. When I say public beta I mean they are still working out the kinks of this AI. It learns through interaction so the more it interacts with a pool of data, the better it is. This data can be user-generated that is we create a controlled database of stuff that we feed the AI. It can also be publicly available data like the internet and other people on the internet. So when OpenAI opened ChatGPT to the world, it was so that they test how well the AI can handle the real world. So good job everyone. It seems like it passed!

Then quite recently OpenAI started facing capacity issues. So a number of you trying to sign up and get a feel of how it works were getting error messages saying ‘Chat GPT is at capacity right now.’ This is in some cases even affecting those who already registered from accessing their accounts. So to ‘manage’ this phenomenon, OpenAI announced that it is trialing a subscription service where you will be paying US$20 a month for priority access to ChatGPT. Call it ChatGPT Plus.

The new subscription plan, ChatGPT Plus, will be available for $20/month, and subscribers will receive a number of benefits:

-General access to ChatGPT, even during peak times
-Faster response times
-Priority access to new features and improvements

ChatGPT Plus is available to customers in the United States, and we will begin the process of inviting people from our waitlist over the coming weeks. We plan to expand access and support to additional countries and regions soon.

OpenAI Blog

So fear not. You can still sign up for free and use it for free, but I think free users are about to get so frustrated they will be pushed to paying that US$20 a month. This also seems fair for those earning a lot using ChatGPT for a whole lot of freelance work and writing dissertations for rich lazy students.

Oh, and It’s still not available in Zimbabwe on the free version with the paid version only available in the US. For now. There is a waiting list though for ChatGPT Plus that you can access by clicking here. I won’t lie I felt a glimpse of hope seeing Zimbabwe is there on the list of countries for this waiting list. Maybe we will miss out on the free version but get access to the paid one. Just maybe. But…There is more good news for businesses and devs. OpenAI is working on making the ChatGPT API available to 3rd parties!

We plan to refine and expand this offering based on your feedback and needs. We’ll also soon be launching the (ChatGPT API waitlist), and we are actively exploring options for lower-cost plans, business plans, and data packs for more availability.

OpenAI blog

BARD. Google’s ChatGPT competitor

Google’s BARD based on LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) is something Google seems to have had in the works but had to make it a rush order to get it out after ChatGPT’s pretty epic success. Google’s pivot with LaMDA is a bit different from that of ChatGPT in that Google primarily wants to use BARD to make search better. So imagine the responses ChatGPT provides being similar to what Google will provide whenever you run a search.

So instead of learning to understand the right terms to put in your search query to get the most accurate results, BARD will hopefully improve the results it delivers even if the search query is vague which in most cases it is. And it makes sense that Google is focusing on enhancing search because it’s their biggest revenue earner at over 57%.

Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models. It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses. Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills.

Google Blog

Now here is the plot twist. Google has been the leader in AI but strictly for personal use. The most common use case has been using AI to make Google smartphones the smartest ones on earth. I actually think they still are. Their smartphones can live transcribe voice memos and even group the conversation based on who was talking. Their camera systems are so superior in photography because it draws data from the web on the best look of a photo taken in any scenario and at one point they tested out a feature where Google Assistant can make calls for you or answer calls on your behalf. Really this was the only way for the average consumer to experience Google’s AI.

So Google was late to the open access general AI and they still are because BARD is still in closed beta meaning it’s almost ready but is still not yet open to the public. Google says they will be reaching out to a select few insiders to test it out and there is no date yet on when you and I will get access to it.

Microsoft wasted no time with ChatGPT

It’s no secret that Microsoft is one of the most prominent investors in ChatGPT both financially and in their products. They recently announced that their search engine Bing and their browser Edge will be AI-powered to offer an enhanced browsing and search experience.

Today, we’re launching an all new, AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser, available in preview now at, to deliver better search, more complete answers, a new chat experience and the ability to generate content. We think of these tools as an AI copilot for the web.

There are 10 billion search queries a day, but we estimate half of them go unanswered. That’s because people are using search to do things it wasn’t originally designed to do. It’s great for finding a website, but for more complex questions or tasks too often it falls short.

Microsoft Blog

They didn’t just stop there. Teams, their Zoom competitor is also getting the AI treatment and it’s probably the most 2023 use case for AI I have seen thus far. During a meeting, the AI will be running speech recognition and will provide a fully transcribed script by the end of the meeting. It will also listen out for deadlines and timelines and suggest calendar entries for these said activities. So essentially Teams has a built-in secretary now. To be fair Google already had this feature in Google Meet but within their Google Workspace business packages.

The options that work in Zimbabwe

Bing, Edge, and Teams as well as Google workspace are supported in Zimbabwe. ChatGPT is for the time being not available in these parts and BARD is still undergoing public beta so it’s not even available for the general public globally. But some crafty individuals have developed solutions to bring the service into our borders.

Kubot – ChatGPT Bot on WhatsApp

This one is pretty cool because it’s working within WhatsApp. Kubot will accept any question you send to it and give responses that in the background are being generated by ChatGPT. It’s making AI accessible to those individuals who are curious to have a feel of how an AI chatbot works but cannot afford access to the greater internet. As long you have access to WhatsApp you are good to go.

Kubot is a chatbot powered by OpenAI’s GPT-3 technology that aims to introduce communities with low internet to AI via widely accessible WhatsApp bundles.

It is NOT a source for current news, its database only goes up to June 2021 and it does not provide the latest news updates, but it can provide information and insights on a wide range of topics.

Kubot follows OpenAI’s terms of use and users should be aware of prohibited content and illegal use cases before using it.


Kubot will allow you 5 free tokens a day which translates to 5 questions or messages you can send to the bot. If you need more than that you then have to reach out to them on Twitter and you can purchase more tokens.

PenPal – ChatGPT powered writer

This one operates on the internet and is just a writing assistant that is powered by OpenAI’s Chat GPT. So you can pick between 4 different subject areas which I am assuming helps with obtaining the right context for the scenario. You have Prompt, Email, Essay, and Product Name. The idea with it is to offer some suggestions for a topic that you don’t have a starting point for yet. It’s also free to use, for now.

PenPal is an AI writing assistant built with OpenAI technology, designed to make ChatGPT functional in Zimbabwe, where it was initially inaccessible. With its advanced AI technology, PenPal eliminates writer’s block and empowers users to achieve their full writing potential. Whether it’s crafting an outline for a research paper, writing an essay, or composing a professional document, PenPal has got you covered.


Is AI going to replace jobs?

If AI can now make decent conversations, write and debug code and draft essays and articles, Are all the people doing these jobs suddenly out of business? No, not really. AI is a tool and all tools require a user. So on its own, it’s not yet able to gather inspiration. It’s a program fed with a finite dataset and it draws its abilities from the provided datasets as well as user inputs for you and me.

What it definitely will do now to these people in these fields is that, as with any tool, it will allow them to do the job a lot quicker. It’s like a calculator. When it came out it just made us crunch complex mathematical problems much faster than doing it manually on paper. But also more accurately. In terms of debugging code, it’s a faster and more accurate tool but the results it produces still need human verification.

The future of certain fields is going to face a lot of exciting changes with AI that will revolutionize how work is done there. And the biggest shifts are going to be in efficiency. AI as a tool is going to be doing certain parts of a job faster than I can. Giving me more time to be more productive with the next thing. It’s the nature of technology that it accelerates development and evolution. We all thought computers were going to replace us but we still use them to make our work more efficient. That’s the same with AI right now and it’s pretty exciting.

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  1. To bot or not to bot

    A lot of people were using it in a commercial capacity so it only makes sense to monetise that usage. Hopefully they’ll be growing their capacity behind the scenes.

    As for not being on ChatGPTs nice list, we all know the reason why we can’t have nice things. In their naughty list, we are kept company by some of the most repressive regimes on earth! Something to ponder

  2. Isaac

    Here’s a message from Kubot (you might wanna scratch it off).

    Our free trial period has ended
    We hope our chatbot service was your friend.
    But running it comes at a cost, you see,
    So now we’ve implemented a paid model for thee.

    A range of packages are now at your hand,
    Starting at just $0.45 for 18 replies so grand.
    This will keep our service in your reach,
    And help you find answers that you seek.

    So don’t let this opportunity pass,
    Choose the package that’s right for your class.
    And keep enjoying our chatbot’s aid.

    ATTENTION: ⚠️⚠️
    Subscription functionality is
    under development and may have bugs
    Kindly contact support for help with any issues.

    1. Joe Munapo

      You might want to stick around, it’s getting trained with latest data tailored to Zimbabweans so soom it’ll be worth every RTGS 😉

  3. Ceejay

    How do I access Kubot on whatsapp

  4. Nitpik

    Is this bard classically trained or just an amateur musician 😂😂

    1. Music Dropout

      A bit of both. It has access to all the classical training but it has also has a gift for learning by ear which grows daily!

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