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Hugging Face launches open source AI assistant maker to rival OpenAI’s custom GPTs

Hugging Face, the New York City-based startup that offers a popular, developer-focused repository for open source AI code and frameworks (and hosted last year’s “Woodstock of AI”), today announced the launch of third-party, customizable Hugging Chat Assistants.

The new, free product offering allows users of Hugging Chat, the startup’s open source alternative to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, to easily create their own customized AI chatbots with specific capabilities, similar both in functionality and intention to OpenAI’s custom GPT Builder — though that requires a paid subscription to ChatGPT Plus ($20 per month), Team ($25 per user per month paid annually), and Enterprise (variable pricing depending on the needs).

Easy creation of custom AI chatbots

Phillip Schmid, Hugging Face’s Technical Lead & LLMs Director, posted the news on the social network X (formerly known as Twitter), explaining that users could build a new personal Hugging Face Chat Assistant “in 2 clicks!” Schmid also openly compared the new capabilities to OpenAI’s custom GPTs.

However, in addition to being free, the other big difference between Hugging Chat Assistant and the GPT Builder and GPT Store is that the latter tools depend entirely on OpenAI’s proprietary large language models (LLM) GPT-4 and GPT-4 Vision/Turbo.

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Users of Hugging Chat Assistant, by contrast, can choose which of several open source LLMs they wish to use to power the intelligence of their AI Assistant on the backend, including everything from Mistral’s Mixtral to Meta’s Llama 2.

That’s in keeping with Hugging Face’s overarching approach to AI — offering a broad swath of different models and frameworks for users to choose between — as well as the same approach it takes with Hugging Chat itself, where users can select between several different open source models to power it.

An open rival to the GPT Store?

Like OpenAI with its GPT Store launched last month, Hugging Face has also created a central repository of third-party customized Hugging Chat Assistants which users can choose between and use on their own time here.

The Hugging Chat Assistants aggregator page bears a very close resemblance to the GPT Store page, even down to its visual style, with custom Assistants displayed like custom GPTs in their own rectangular, baseball card-style boxes with circular logos inside.

Screenshot of OpenAI’s GPT Store.
Screenshot of Hugging Face’s Hugging Chat Assistants page.

Better in some ways than GPTs, worse than others

Already, some users in the open source AI community are hailing Hugging Chat Assistants as “better than GPTs,” including Mathieu Trachino, founder of enterprise AI software provider GenDojo.ai, who took to X to list off the merits, which mainly revolve around the user customizability of the underlying models and the fact that the whole situation is free, compared to OpenAI’s paid subscription tiers.

He also noted some areas where custom GPTs outperform Hugging Chat Assistants, including the fact that they don’t currently support web search, retrieval augmented generation (RAG), nor can they generate their own logos (which GPTs do thanks to the power of OpenAI’s image generation AI model DALL-E 3).

Still, the arrival of Hugging Chat Assistants shows how fast the open source community continues to catch up to closed rivals like the now-ironically named “Open” AI, especially coming just one day after the confirmed leak of a new open source model from Mistral, Miqu, that nearly matches the performance of the closed GPT-4, still the high watermark for LLMs. But…for how long?

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