The long-awaited AI chatbot war has officially begun. And as tech companies race to modernize their services, experts warn (opens in new tab) about the dangers of rushing this ChatGPT frenzy.
Ad-free search engine Neeva, however, promises to fix AI-powered search by combining the power of generative AI systems with its authoritative and unbiased search technology.
This means that unlike ChatGPT apps, the results are in real time. In addition, the AI summaries are supported with links to resources, so that users can check their reliability for themselves.
First launched in December 2022 in the US, NeevaAI beat the Big Tech giants Microsoft and Google in developing its own ChatGPT-like search assistant. In fact, Microsoft Edge’s ChatGPT tool was announced about a week ago to complement Bing’s AI search. So did Bard, Google’s “experimental conversational AI service”.
And now NeevaAI has expanded its reach beyond the US. Beginning February 13, 2023, users in Canada, the UK, Germany, France, and Spain will be able to tap into the power of AI-powered search results.
But can NeevaAI Real solve the AI-powered search problem?
✨ You asked. We delivered. ✨ Today NeevaAI is officially launched and ready to try in: 🇨🇦 Canada🇫🇷 France🇩🇪 Germany🇪🇸 Spain🇬🇧 UK Login to your Neeva account and start searching at https://t.co/aZwoDBErAs pic .twitter.com .com/iGhxn00hs5February 13, 2023
From a search engine to an answering machine
“Search, an everyday use feature, is increasingly about serving advertisers, not serving users. Neeva is flipping the whole model and creating an AI-powered, ad-free search built entirely for users,” says Neeva’s CEO Sridhar Ramaswamy told BingoTingo.
In fact, bringing back a user-first experience was the main reason why Ramaswamy quit his job as Google Head of Ads in 2018 to develop his ad-free private search engine. Now, with the explosion of software like ChatGPT, he sees another opportunity to better serve Neeva’s customers.
The algorithms that power generative artificial intelligence software like ChatGPT use large language models (LLMs) to create new content. NeevaAI (opens in new tab) combines this innovative ability with the authority and timeliness of its software to turn “a search engine into an answering machine”.
Such a system is built to query a page, understand its content and decide whether or not it is useful and/or authoritative enough to be credited as a source. It does that in real time as the web changes, to provide a synthesized single answer with linked resources gathered from the most relevant sites for a query.
Ramaswamy explained that NeevaAI usually uses its own models that the team can pre-train or fine-tune for custom tasks like answering questions or summarizing questions.
These are integrated with other systems, such as GPT3.5 and Anthropic’s Claude, for generating training data (used to train its own models), as well as super-specialized tasks in the overall pipeline.
Despite this new accessibility of generative AI systems being one of the biggest technological innovations in recent years, the first iterations are far from perfect.
In fact, software like ChatGPT has two major drawbacks. First of all, the results are never sourced or referenced. Second, these are not fetched for a real-time stack of data. The results are then less relevant and more difficult to verify.
While some other Big Tech companies are launching an AI-powered search chatbot to solve the last point, Nee’s unique feature provides citation cards tied to the results. These swipeable cards highlight authoritative information about the topic under investigation and suggest important research questions to the searcher.
“Our goal was to integrate AI responsibly and provide authoritative answers that users can trust.”
Ramaswamy believes that Neeva’s ad-free model can also be useful here.
He said: “Every time you move a product to a way of asking a question and providing a single answer, the ads collapse. What we see is the tension between both realizing the full potential in this technology as well as the fact that these companies have large revenues.
“Not only that, but we were able to deliver this six weeks before big tech announced their own versions (which are still not really available).”
After receiving positive feedback after its launch in December, the company has now released its AI search assistant in Canada and some European countries as well. However, people living outside of these countries can also enjoy the feature by simply playing around with some settings.
In addition, Neeva is so far the only one in the game committed to supporting publishers and content creators – the ones most affected by an increase in AI chatbots. In addition to offering 20% of topline revenue when their content is used to directly answer a question, Neeva is also exploring ways to help publishers use AI in their sites for a better user experience.
AI chatbot race: is NeevaAI really that good?
But while it’s true that Neeva probably opened the AI chatbot race, it’s certainly not the only player in the game today.
Among the biggest names, Microsoft has just launched its new AI-powered Bing, based on the OpenAI system. Google responded with Bard. The latter uses Google’s own language learning model Lamda (opens in new tab)which was considered “conscious” by one of the engineers working on it.
The smaller You.com browser has also integrated its site with a similar AI chatbot, and China-based search engine Baidu is rolling out its Ernie in March. Outside the search world, technology giant Meta already launched Blenderbot in the US last summer.
Tech companies seem to be racing to put their fingers in the AI pie. However, the results we see so far are anything but perfect.
That’s because ChatGPT-like software has some intrinsic limitations.
For example, something known as jailbreaking can allow the AI chatbot to develop dangerous and abusive ways of replying to users. But perhaps the most problematic is the tendency to sell disinformation as fact. This problem has already cost Google more than $100 billion, as Bard responded to a question with false information during the launch event.
My new favorite thing – Bing’s new ChatGPT bot argues with a user, winds them up about the current year being 2022, says their phone may have a virus, and says “You haven’t been a good user” Why? Because the person asked where Avatar 2 is shown near pic.twitter.com/X32vopXxQGFebruary 13, 2023
On that note, Ramaswamy said that Neeva works differently compared to pure generative AI because it uses a more limited system that will refuse to answer if it can’t find a suitable answer.
However, this does not mean that Neeva will never report misleading or incorrect information.
For example, when we asked NeevaAI the same question that tripped Google’s Bard at its launch event: “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9-year-old about?” – we got exactly the same answer that Bard gave.
This appears to be because NeevaAI found valid sources reporting the news, but was unable to discern that these sites actually reported this answer to be wrong.
“This is why quotes are central to Neeva’s AI answers,” says Ramaswamy. “Just as no website is credible in its entirety, so thoughtfulness and skepticism are essential to survive in this modern world.”