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April 26, 2023

Enhancing ChatGPT with Custom Knowledge Bases for Specialized Chatbots: An In-Context Learning Approach

Key Points

The Challenge at Hand

Companies often require chatbots that excel in specific technical domains, such as medical advice, legal guidance, or customer support for a particular product. However, ChatGPT, while powerful, is not always equipped to handle these custom use cases. Therefore, the challenge lies in combining the power of ChatGPT with custom knowledge bases to create specialized chatbots that cater to unique business needs.

Potential Solutions: Weighing the Options

When it comes to customizing ChatGPT with a custom knowledge base, there are two primary approaches: fine-tuning and in-context learning. 

Fine-tuning can result in higher performance for specific domains and is more suited for large-scale custom datasets. However, it requires access to the model's weights, more computational resources, and can be time-consuming and complex to implement. 

On the other hand, in-context learning is quick and easy to implement, allowing for real-time adaptation to new information. Its main drawbacks are being limited by the context size (maximum of 4,000 tokens) and potentially requiring more context to achieve desired performance.

The Chosen Solution: In-Context Learning in Action

We choose in-context learning for this blog post, as it is a more accessible and straightforward approach to customizing ChatGPT with custom knowledge bases. This solution works by leveraging a vector database system built from a custom knowledge database. The core idea is to use similarity search to find the most relevant information from the custom database to include in the input context for ChatGPT, enabling it to provide more specialized responses.

Understanding Vector Databases

Vector databases are designed to store documents as high-dimensional vectors, which are multi-dimensional representations of words or phrases. This storage method enables efficient similarity searches, or "vector searches," which allow users to find relevant information without relying on specific keywords or metadata. This process returns similar or near-neighbor matches, providing a more comprehensive list of results. To store documents in this format, the database uses a process called embedding, which converts each word into a vector with hundreds or thousands of dimensions.

Macarena López Morillo
Head of People
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From Query to Response: The Complete Workflow

Before diving into the detailed steps of the end-to-end pipeline, let's understand the overall process. The goal is to guide ChatGPT using relevant information from the custom knowledge base when answering user queries. This is achieved by retrieving the most pertinent context from the custom database and incorporating it into the input for ChatGPT, allowing the model to generate a specialized response.

 Let's check out the steps of the end-to-end pipeline:

  • User makes a query that requires custom knowledge.
  • The query is sent to the vector database system, which performs a similarity search to find the most relevant information from the custom knowledge base.
  • The retrieved context is combined with the user's query to create an input for ChatGPT.
  • ChatGPT processes the input, leveraging the custom context to generate a specialized response.
  • The AI model's response is sent back to the user.

Inspiring Examples and Use Cases:

Let's explore some examples of chatbots that can be enhanced using in-context learning to provide more specialized responses based on custom knowledge bases:

  • Medical chatbots: A chatbot trained with a hospital's database of medical conditions, treatments, and procedures can provide personalized health advice based on the custom knowledge base. This helps doctors navigate options, and patients receive accurate information tailored to their needs.
  • Legal chatbots: A chatbot that incorporates a law firm's database of case studies, precedents, and regulations can provide domain-specific legal guidance. Clients can benefit from expert advice, while law firms can offer efficient and accessible support.
  • E-commerce chatbots: A retailer's chatbot can be enhanced with a product catalog and customer support database to answer specific questions about products, shipping, and returns. This leads to a more streamlined and satisfying shopping experience for customers, and more sales for brands.
  • Educational chatbots: Educational institutions can create chatbots trained with their curriculum, course materials, and student resources to provide personalized study guidance and answer questions on academic topics for students, teachers, or anyone interested in acquiring the information.
  • Travel chatbots: A travel agency's chatbot can be enriched with a database of destinations, accommodations, and activities to offer tailored recommendations and booking assistance for travelers, making their vacation planning process more enjoyable and efficient, and securing more sales for the organization


Incorporating custom knowledge bases into ChatGPT can significantly enhance its capabilities, and create specialized chatbots that cater to unique business needs. By leveraging in-context learning and vector databases, businesses can efficiently and effectively guide ChatGPT to provide more targeted and accurate responses to user queries. The examples and use cases presented in this blog post demonstrate the potential of this approach in various industries, serving as a tool for professionals in their workfields and inspiring innovation and growth in the realm of AI-powered chatbots.

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