The search engine with webbed feet is in turn venturing into the great pond of generative AI. Called DuckAssist, this new feature currently in beta phase generates natural language responses to user queries based on information from Wikipedia.
What you must remember :
- DuckAssist uses generative artificial intelligence to provide instant responses to user queries.
- The answers generated take the form of summaries of information mainly taken from Wikipedia.
- It is possible to test the functionality for free, now, without the need to register.
- DuckDuckGo announces the arrival in the coming months of other features assisted by generative AI.
How is DuckAssist different from other search engine AIs?
According to its creators, DuckAssist uses a natural language technology from OpenAi and Anthropicfounded by former OpenAi members, to summarize information from Wikipedia (and occasionally Encyclopedia Britannica) and provide more direct answers to user questions, compared to traditional search results.
Unlike generative AIs, which are designed to respond to “prompts” whether they “know” the answer or not, the functionality behind DuckAssist is only to summarize information from reliable sources to minimize inaccuracies and other fabrications.
DuckDuckGo anticipates possible criticism: its functionality will not be able to provide an accurate answer for every query. As the press release states: Because there is a limit to the amount of information the feature can summarize, we use specific phrases from Wikipedia that we believe are most relevant; inaccuracies may occur if our relevance feature is turned off, by unintentionally omitting key phrases or if there is an error in the material provided. DuckAssist can also make mistakes when answering particularly complex questions, simply because it would be difficult for any tool to summarize answers in such cases. »
During this beta phase, DuckDuckGo invites users to share their feedback and report any problems encounteredanonymously, so that improvements can be made quickly.
Why did you choose Wikipedia as the main source of information?
In its official communication, DuckDuckGo justifies the choice to make Wikipedia the main source of information for its DuckAssist. Although he recognizes that the service is not perfect, the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo Gabriel Weinberg, explains that the famous collaborative encyclopedia remains relatively reliable on a wide variety of subjects.
Furthermore, since Wikipedia is constantly being updated, the answers generated by DuckAssist are able toreflect recent understanding on a given topic. Currently, the Wikipedia index used is at most a few weeks old and DuckDuckGo plans not only to use a newer index, but also to add other sources soon. Furthermore, Wikipedia is a public resource with a transparent editorial process through which it is possible to easily trace the origin of information.
DuckDuckGo gives some additional details
- Framing the query as a question increases the likelihood of DuckAssist appearing in search results.
- In addition, to promote the appearance of DuckAssist, Gabriel Weinberg advises users to add the word “wiki” to their request, if they are certain that Wikipedia has the answer to their question.
- To not see responses generated by DuckAssist, simply disable instant responses in the settings. Warning: this will disable ALL instant responses, not just DuckAssist.
- If DuckAssit has already generated a response for a given topic, then the response will appear automatically. However, it is possible to generate a user-specific response by clicking on the “Ask” button.
- For the moment, DuckAssist in its beta version is only available in English on iOS, Android and Mac applications) and on browser extensions (Firefox, Chrome and Safari). If all goes well, DuckDuckGo plans to roll out its feature to all users soon.
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