DuckDuckGo dips Into the AI chatbot pond


Because there simply aren’t enough AI-powered chatbots out there, we’re getting one more. This one, called AI Chat, comes courtesy of DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine that obviously doesn’t want to feel left behind in the AI arms race. The company has been testing AI Chat over the last few months, but as of today, it’s available to everyone.

Unlike other standalone bots like Google’s Gemini and OpenAI’s ChatGPT that are powered by their own large language models, DuckDuckGo’s AI Chat is not. Instead, think of it as a way to access multiple chatbots in a single place. Right now, AI chat will let you choose between OpenAI’s GPT 3.5, Anthropic’s Claude 3 Haiku, Meta’s Llama 3 and Mistral’s Mistral 8x7B, and the company says that more models are coming soon. The main differences between them largely boil down to how many parameters — technical speak for the settings that a large language model can tweak to give you an answer — each one has. If you don’t like a model’s answer, you can try another one.

AI Chat is free to use but is capped with the daily limit. The company said that it’s exploring a paid plan that will give access to higher limits as well as more advanced AI models. DuckDuckGo said that you can use AI Chat to ask questions, draft emails, write code, and create travel itineraries among other things, but it doesn’t generate images yet.

Not surprisingly, DuckDuckGo is stressing how private using AI Chat is compared to just using ChatGPT or Claude on their own. The company claims that your questions and the generated answers won’t be used for training AI models. “(We) call the underlying chat models on your behalf, removing your IP address completely and using our IP address instead,” wrote Nirzar Pangarkar, DuckDuckGo’s lead designer in a blog post. “This way it looks like the requests are coming from us and not you.” And if you’d rather not deal with a chatbot when you’re just trying to search anonymously, DuckDuckGo lets you easily turn the feature off.

AI Chats is separate from DuckAssist, another AI-powered feature that DuckDuckGo added last year that provides AI-generated summaries at the top of search results. It’s just like Google’s AI Overviews, the controversial new feature that recently told people to eat rocks and put glue on their pizza, except that DuckAssist sticks to reliable sources like Wikipedia to generate its responses. DuckDuckGo thinks that AI Chat and DuckAssist are complementary. “If you start with Search, you may want to switch to AI Chat for follow-up queries to help make sense of what you’ve read, or for quick, direct answers to new questions that weren’t covered in the web pages you saw,” wrote Pangarkar. “It’s all down to your personal preference.”