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DuckDuckGo debuts AI-based search using OpenAI and Anthropic language models

DuckDuckGo, the search engine focused on user privacy, announced today that it is rolling out an AI-powered instant response service it calls DuckAssist as part of a larger plan to integrate AI into its product lineup.

DuckAssist is broadly speaking a generative AI system that uses technology from ChatGPT creators OpenAI and another generative AI company, Anthropic, to generate its own answers to certain types of questions.

It does this without tracking user queries and adheres 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 when it has incomplete or incorrect information to proceed.

The company said DuckAssist uses OpenAI’s Davinci AI large language model — not ChatGPT itself — as well as AI firm Anthropic’s Claude model.

Davinci is the most powerful and richest of OpenAI’s four major AI language models, though it suffers from processing speed alongside more streamlined models like Babbage and Ada, according to OpenAI’s documentation. Claude is a large language model designed as a competitor to ChatGPT that adds restrictions to limit malicious or inaccurate responses.

DuckDuckGo warned that DuckAssist is a work in progress and may not generate accurate answers 100% of the time. It’s also being phased in throughout the search engine, so it may not show up for all relevant searches right away. But according to DuckDuckGo, it’s step one of a broader plan to use AI in search.

“This is the first in a series of generative AI-assisted features we hope to roll out in the coming months,” said a blog post from the company. “We wanted DuckAssist to be first because we think it can immediately help users find answers to what they’re looking for faster.”

While no further details about DuckDuckGo’s future AI plans were available, the search engine noted that DuckAssist appears more often in search results for questions with clear answers that can be provided by Wikipedia or the like, and that objective searches were more likely to find a DuckAssist produce a reaction. DuckAssist is now available for testing through the company’s browsing apps and extensions.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.