AI news
June 6, 2024

ChatGPT, Claude, Gemini, and Perplexity All Went Down In 24 Hours

Was it caused by an unexpected surge in usage or a cyberattack?

Jim Clyde Monge
by 
Jim Clyde Monge

In one of the rarest moments in AI history, three of the biggest AI chatbots — OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini, Anthropic’s Claude, and Perplexity — all went down within 24 hours.

ChatGPT alone has over 100 million active users worldwide, so the disruption affected a massive volume of users globally.

This unprecedented event raises questions: Was it caused by an unexpected surge in usage or a cyberattack?

Last night, I was conducting research on Perplexity Pages for an upcoming article when suddenly the site crashed with a message indicating the system had reached its capacity.

I switched to ChatGPT, only to find it was also down.

A quick check on X confirmed that both services were experiencing global outages.

Outage Duration

Analyzing the outage reports for all four AI services on downdetector.com reveals that they almost simultaneously went down.

While ChatGPT, Gemini, and Perplexity experienced complete outages, Claude 3 had sporadic connection issues but was not consistently offline.

The outage lasted for a few hours, and fortunately, all services have since resumed normal operations.

What Just Happened?

While the outage could be attributed to a sudden spike in demand, the possibility of something more significant has been the talk of the AI community yesterday.

“Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) or just coincidence?”

According to an analysis by QR Code Generator, global searches for ChatGPT’s competitor, Gemini, surged by 60%. Within four hours of the initial reports of ChatGPT’s outage, search queries for Gemini exceeded 327,000. If Claude and Perplexity experienced similar spikes in demand, this could explain their downtime.

The unexpected influx of users might have overwhelmed the companies’ capacities if they were not prepared for such a sudden increase.

Of course, it’s understandable that some speculate something larger happened here. ChatGPT was the first to go down, yet OpenAI did not provide any details on the cause.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the downtime coincided with the 2024 Taipei International Information Technology Show (Computex), adding another layer of intrigue to the situation.

Despite various theories about what happened, I err on the side of increased demand. Here’s a plausible scenario:

  1. ChatGPT has gone down because they’re attempting to roll out its compute-hungry GPT-4o Voice feature that runs speech-to-speech for natural conversation
  2. As OpenAI has the majority market share, everyone flocks to competitors.
  3. Consequently, Claude, Gemini, and Perplexity were overwhelmed by the sudden influx of users and went down as well.

Final Thoughts

Whatever the reason for the downtime, there’s an interesting fact that we all should be paying attention to:

  • There’s an increasing demand for AI chatbots and their services
  • People are becoming more reliant on AI

This incident serves as a reminder not to become overly dependent on chatbots for our tasks. What if these AIs go down again, taking all their associated services with them? Maybe today it’s not much of a deal but in a few years it will be.

Imagine the economic collapse if our dependency on AI makes the entire system vulnerable. This also underscores the importance of knowing how to run Large Language Models (LLMs) offline. Open-source LLMs like Meta’s Llama-3 or Mistral 7B perform comparably to GPT-4 or Claude Opus and can run on local machines without an internet connection.

If you’re interested in learning how to set up and run these open-source LLMs, please let me know in the comments.