DeepMind and Meta staff plan to launch a new AI chatbot that could have the edge over ChatGPT and Bard

AI
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Since the explosion in popularity of large language AI models chatbots like ChatGPT, Google Gemini, and Microsoft Copilot, many smaller companies have tried to wiggle their way into the scene. Reka, a new AI startup, is gearing up to take on artificial intelligence chatbot giants like Gemini (formerly known as Google Bard) and OpenAI’s ChatGPT - and it may have a fighting chance to actually do so. 

The company is spearheaded by Singaporean scientist Yi Tay, working towards Reka Flash, a multilingual language model that has been trained in over 32 languages. Reka Flash also boasts 21 billion parameters, with the company stating that the model could have a competitive edge with Google Gemini Pro and OpenAI’s ChatGPT 3.5 across multiple AI benchmarks. 

According to TechInAsia, the company has also released a more compact version of the model called Reka Edge, which offers 7 billion parameters with specific use cases like on-device use. It’s worth noting that ChatGPT and Google Gemini have significantly more training parameters (approximately 175 billion and 137 billion respectively), but those bots have been around for longer and there are benefits to more ‘compact’ AI models; for example, Google has ‘Gemini Nano’, an AI model designed for running on edge devices like smartphones that uses just 1.8 billion parameters - so Reka Edge has it beat there.

So, who’s Yasa?

The model is available to the public in beta on the official Reka site. I’ve had a go at using it and can confirm that it's got a familiar ChatGPT-esque feel to the user interface and the way the bot responds. 

The bot introduced itself as Yasa, developed by Reka, and gave me an instant rundown of all the things it could do for me. It had the usual AI tasks down, like general knowledge, sharing jokes or stories, and solving problems.

Interestingly, Yasa noted that it can also assist in translation, and listed 28 languages it can swap between. While my understanding of written Hindi is rudimentary, I did ask Yasa to translate some words and phrases from English to Hindi and from Hindi to English. 

I was incredibly impressed not just by the accuracy of the translation, but also by the fact that Yasa broke down its translation to explain not just how it got there, but also breaking down each word in the phrase or sentence and translated it word forward before giving you the complete sentence. The response time for each prompt no matter how long was also very quick. Considering that non-English-language prompts have proven limited in the past with other popular AI chatbots, it’s a solid showing - although it’s not the only multilingual bot out there.

I tried to figure out how up-to-date the bot was with current events or general knowledge and finally figured out the information.  It must have been trained on information that predates the release of the Barbie movie. I know, a weird litmus test, but when I asked it to give me some facts about the pink-tinted Margot Robbie feature it spoke about it as an ‘upcoming movie’ and gave me the release date of July 28, 2023. So, we appear to have the same case as seen with ChatGPT, where its knowledge was previously limited to world events before 2022

Of all the ChatGPT alternatives I’ve tried since the AI boom, Reka (or should I say, Yasa) is probably the most immediately impressive. While other AI betas feel clunky and sometimes like poor-man’s knockoffs, Reka holds its own not just with its visually pleasing user interfaces and easy-to-use setup, but for its multilingual capabilities and helpful, less robotic personality.

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Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.

Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place.

Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).