(OPINION) It’s been a year since OpenAI launched ChatGPT and people are still marveling at the chatbot’s popularity.

Yann LeCun, Meta’s chief scientist, told Forbes ChatGPT was treated like the “second coming of the messiah” when it was released. The AI pioneer added the bot’s impact on the public sphere was “a big surprise to everyone, including OpenAI.”

LeCun said: “The surprise was that if you put this tool in the hands of people, and if it doesn’t come from a big tech company, then people get really impressed by it. They start using it.”


The bot captured the public imagination and users quickly found creative ways to leverage the tech. Within two months, more than 100 million users had accessed ChatGPT’s website, according to data analytics firm Similarweb.

The bot’s popularity set off alarm bells at Google and kickstarted an AI arms race between big tech companies. Meta has since released various AI products including its large language model Llama 2 and AI assistants based on celebrities such as Kendall Jenner.

Meta released Llama 2 as a mostly open-source AI model in July, making it free for anyone to use. LeCun told Forbes the decision came from Zuckerberg following a “big internal debate.” Meta, along with AI lab Hugging Face, has encouraged transparency when it comes to AI models.