DuckDuckGo is the latest search engine getting on the generative AI train. It recently launch the beta of its new summarization tool known as DuckAssist, which utilizes “natural language technology” from both OpenAI and AI research company Anthropic.
Though similar to Bing, DuckAssist is not quite like ChatGPT. Instead of utilizing multiple sources to create the summaries, the tool uses primarily just one: Wikipedia. DuckDuckGo specifically chose Wikipedia “because it’s a public resource with a transparent editorial process that cites all the sources used in an article”. The company also points out that since the platform is frequently updated, DuckAssist will always deliver up-to-date information – at most, a few weeks old. Occasionally, the tool will pull from other platforms like Encyclopedia Britannica. However, Wikipedia will be the main one.
Using a single source for information brings with it multiple benefits, according to DuckDuckGo, like being able to generate answers for a vast number of queries quickly. Additionally, only pulling from Wikipedia and its sources reduces the rate of hallucinations – a problem generative AIs have where the tech will just make something up unrelated to the search query.
Work in progress
The way DuckAssist works is pretty simple. All you have to do is ask DuckDuckGo a question, and it’ll immediately write up a summary, complete with the sourced Wikipedia article at the bottom. It’ll even point to the specific section of said article where the original information can be found.
The announcement post gives some suggestions on how to get the most out of DuckAssist. For example, “phrasing your search query as a question [or] adding the word ‘wiki’” increases the chances the summary will appear.
Since the tool is in beta, it’s not perfect. DuckDuckGo admits DuckAssist will not get it right 100 percent of the time. It may omit key information, give the wrong information, cite the wrong source, or all three at once – especially if it’s a particularly complex question. Also, not every query will be given an answer such as asking about recent global events.
Because of these issues, DuckDuckGo is asking users to provide suggestions on DuckAssist and how it can improve the tool. Next to the summaries will be an anonymous feedback link where you can send feedback.
The tool is currently available on DuckDuckGo’s mobile apps and browser extensions, although not everyone will get to try it out. For those who can, it’s free and totally private. None of the queries will be used to train any AI models nor will OpenAI, Anthropic, or any third-party have access to that information. DuckAssist will roll out to all users within the coming weeks assuming everything goes well with the beta.
It’s worth mentioning this is the first of a series of AI-assisted features that DuckDuckGo is working on. Not much else is known beyond that, but It'll be interesting to see what the developers come up with.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, that’s because Brave launched something very similar on its own web browser. Be sure to check out our coverage of Brave’s Summarizer feature.
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Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.