DuckDuckGo, the search engine focused on user privacy, announced today that it is rolling out an AI-powered instant answer service, which it calls DuckAssist, as part of a larger plan to integrate AI across its product lineup.
DuckAssist, in broad strokes, is a generative AI system that uses technology from ChatGPT makers OpenAI as well as another generative AI company, Anthropic, to generate its own answers to certain types of question.
It does this without tracking user queries and sticks to a specific set of data sources — namely, Wikipedia and other mostly reputable online encyclopedias. This is done to minimize “hallucination,” which is the phenomenon where generative AI simply makes up an answer to a question out of whole cloth when it has incomplete or incorrect information to go on.
The company said that DuckAssist uses the Davinci AI large language model from OpenAI — not ChatGPT itself — as well as the Claude model from AI firm Anthropic.
Davinci is the most powerful and feature-rich of OpenAI’s four AI large language models, though it suffers in processing speed next to more streamlined models like Babbage and Ada, according to OpenAI’s documentation. Claude is a large language model designed as a competitor to ChatGPT, which adds restrictions designed to limit harmful or inaccurate responses.
DuckDuckGo warned that DuckAssist is a work in progress, and might not generate accurate answers 100% of the time. It’s also being phased in across the search engine, so it might not pop up for all applicable queries right away. But it’s step one of a broader plan to use AI in search, according to DuckDuckGo.
“This is the first in a series of generative AI-assisted features we hope to roll out in the coming months,” according to a company blog post. “We wanted DuckAssist to be the first because we think it can immediately help users find answers to what they are looking for faster.”
While further details on DuckDuckGo’s future AI plans weren’t forthcoming, the search engine did note that DuckAssist is more likely to appear in search results for questions that have clear answers that could be provided by Wikipedia or similar, and that objective queries were more likely to produce a DuckAssist response. DuckAssist is available now to test via the company’s browsing apps and extensions.
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