Rewind’s new feature brings ChatGPT to your personal information

The idea of ​​a personal search engine is powerful and appealing. What if there was an app that knew everything about my meetings, my tasks, my browser history, my emails and everything else and could help me sift through it to find what interests me? It seems super useful! Plus, in an age of increasing surveillance and continued monetization of our every thought and action, it feels like a terrifying dystopia from hell!

There’s probably a middle ground somewhere that works. That’s what is trying to find with the feature it’s launching today. It’s called “ChatGPT For Me”, and it’s a GPT-4 chatbot that you can use to interact with all the information Rewind’s app collects about you.

(Rewind, if you haven’t heard of it, is an app that was released last year for Apple Silicon Macs. It records everything you do on your computer, like, All – and gives you a timeline of every meeting you’ve attended, every website you’ve visited, and everything you’ve typed or clicked on your machine. For between zero and $30 a month, you get different features to search, sort, and interact with all that history. How you instinctively respond to this idea – useful tool or dystopian nightmare – probably says a lot about what you’ll think of ChatGPT For Me.)

With ChatGPT For Me, you can query a chatbot about your computer data any way you want. What did I do last week? Who did I promise to call today? What was that link about that thing I was reading? Like everything with ChatGPT and other chatbots, it surely won’t do it perfectly and will make some spectacular mistakes along the way. But it gets better soon.

By the way, this type of service is about to become a big industry. In addition to Rewind, there’s also Lindy, an AI assistant that CEO Flo Crivello describes as “ChatGPT with access to all your apps.” Note-taking apps such as Mem, Notion, and Reflect already incorporate large language models, or LLMs. Google and Microsoft, the two companies that perhaps have more access to our personal data than any other, are surely exploring how LLMs can and should interact with your private data. (Heck, Google has been talking about this stuff since the days of Google Now.) Like it or not, chatbots are coming for your stuff.

Dan Siroker, CEO of, gave me a demo of the new feature ahead of its launch. He and I had never met before, but we had sent a few emails and he had looked for me before we met. So he opened the ChatGPT For Me window, a separate chat window in the Rewind app, and typed “how do I know David Pierce?” Seconds later, he spat out a response: We had a recent interaction after he reached out to introduce me. (True and true.) We scheduled a 30-minute zoom on March 22, 2023 (true) and discussed a big launch at Rewind (true). He was also linked to our meeting’s calendar event, my LinkedIn page from his browser history, and more. With 10 seconds and a paragraph, Rewind detailed our entire relationship.

When the CEO of Rewind asked me how he knew me, ChatGPT understood right away.
Image: Rewind/Dan Siroker

The specific way it works is really important. Rewind’s whole promise, the way it avoids falling into dystopia, is to make its point about privacy. The Rewind app itself never sends your data anywhere and stores it anywhere but your device, says Siroker, and Rewind’s help docs even direct you to tools like Little Snitch to find out. by yourself.

When it comes to ChatGPT, however, Rewind needs to send some of your data to the cloud in order to process your question and get helpful answers. Siroker says the goal is to figure out how to do this in the least intrusive way possible. But what does it look like? “I’m obsessed with this question,” he says. “I don’t think anyone has figured out how to balance that balance between convenience and privacy in a way that generates enough value to get people excited about it, but doesn’t hinder adoption in a creepy or scary way.” He said privacy was the main constraint in the development of ChatGPT For Me, and finding the right balance is actually “the technology key here that will allow this to be adopted not only by tech enthusiasts, but also by general public users.

What the company landed on was to take your ChatGPT prompt – something like “what did I do last Friday” – and first query your Rewind database for a list of information relevant. This information is then sent to OpenAI’s ChatGPT servers as text; Siroker says no video, screenshot or audio file is ever sent anywhere. “Then that query is processed, the text is sent back to Rewind, and we interpret those results and reference your local data.”

Make no mistake, it’s still a big trade-off. You may not be sending screenshots to OpenAI, but you are still sending the text they contain. That means you trust Rewind to choose the right things and send them responsibly – and you trust OpenAI to be a good steward and processor of that data. And that raises even trickier questions: Should you be able to download information about private conversations you’ve had with people without their permission? I’m not going to lie, it was a bit strange to have ChatGPT tell me about the email I sent to Siroker. Rewind has been through this before: when it launched, it used a cloud service to transcribe audio to your computer, which didn’t sit well with users. Rewind has therefore disabled audio transcriptions until it can do them on your device. (Which it does using OpenAI’s Whisper API.)

One day big language models like GPT-4 will also be able to run locally on your device and won’t need any data to be sent anywhere

One day, Siroker believes, large language models like GPT-4 will also be able to run locally on your device and won’t need any data to be sent anywhere. That day may even come soon. But for now, he thinks all he can do is be crystal clear about what’s going on and let users decide what they’re comfortable with. “I consider that many of our users don’t even realize the privacy risks,” he says. “So I feel like I have a higher obligation, as someone who deeply understands how it works…I have to be a good shepherd of it.”

Rewind’s “search for your life” has always been a bit of a controversial idea, although Siroker says more people are coming all the time. As models improve and our digital lives become increasingly distributed and complicated, we will need tools to help us make sense of it all. In fact, says Siroker, Rewind users have been asking for ChatGPT integration for months. “We have the most valuable data that can be used to help answer questions,” he says. “They have an amazing model that will help you reason about it and respond to it. As long as we can strike the right balance between privacy and convenience, I think we have a killer product here. »

Whether Rewind or any other tool actually strikes the right balance is up to you. And as long as you can choose, Siroker thinks we’re still fine.

Written by Personal News

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