Search engine Challenger Neeva wants to replace the familiar “10 Blue Links” in search results with something more appropriate for the modern age of AI.
Back in December, Neeva co-founder and CEO Sridhar Ramaswami, who previously headed Google’s advertising technology business, teased new “advanced artificial intelligence” and large language models (LLMs), positioning himself against the Chat GPT hype.
“Chat GPT cannot provide you with real-time data or fact-checking,” Ramaswamy wrote at the time. “In our upcoming updates, Neeva may.”
Fast forward to January, and Neeva has officially launched NeevaAI in the US market, billed as an “authentic real-time AI search.” While it was still technically possible for users around the world to be able to access NeevaAI, this required a bit of fiddling around in the account settings, including changing language and location settings. Today, however, NeevaAI is officially rolling out internationally to registered users including Canada, the UK, Germany, France, and Spain. In addition, the Neeva search engine itself (not NeevaAI) will be deployed in Australia and New Zealand.
The timing of today’s announcement is particularly noteworthy as it comes a week after Microsoft reignited the search engine wars by introducing ChatGPT to its Bing search engine, and with it a promise to completely rethink search.
Read Also: Google launches Chat GPT, rival Bard
Define Chat GPT?
Most years can be largely defined by at least one overarching technology trend. In 2022, web3 was one of the buzzwords in town, and the metaverse and tangential immersive technologies were also vying for minds. While there is no indication that such trends will disappear anytime soon, it is clear from the first six weeks of the new year that generative AI will be the main topic of conversation in 2023.
Generative AI essentially describes the process of using algorithms to create (“generate”) new content. Exemplifying this movement is Chat GPT, a chatbot-style technology trained on large language models (LLMs) capable of producing frighteningly good (but far from flawless) work such as essays, articles, poetry, lyrics, and even computer programs. Created by OpenAI, a Microsoft-backed artificial intelligence (AI) research organization, Chat GPT has taken the world by storm since its prototype was first unveiled back in November, with some arguing that its launch signals the emergence of AI into the mainstream.
Since OpenAI is already commercializing the service through a premium subscription, the mighty Google went to work last week to unveil a new “experimental conversational AI service” called Bard, demonstrating how AI can transform search engines using synthesized responses gathered from multiple sources. to provide more. detailed responses to online inquiries. And this is what Microsoft actually launched two days later – a brand new incarnation of Bing, running on a more advanced version of ChatGPT configured for real-time search.
Instead of maintaining a regular list of links, the new AI search engine takes in a query, crawls the responses, and generates a response replete with links to primary sources.
And this is, in fact, what Neeva is now bringing to international markets, a month after the launch in the US.
Neeva AI Search Engine, We Know So Far
As a quick recap, Mountain View, California-based Neeva first launched a subscription-only search engine in the domestic US market in June 2021 and then added a free “basic” tier to it with certain restrictions in place. The company introduced the search engine in Europe back in October and has since rolled it out to other markets around the world.
Neeva’s main advantage is that it doesn’t monetize through ads and doesn’t allow third-party trackers to use personal data to display personalized ads – Neeva wants to make money with good old-fashioned paid subscriptions.
An ad-free search environment means users don’t have to scroll through a lot of sponsored results to get to the organic links they want. However, Neeva’s basic look and feel is largely the same as search engines had before Google came on the scene – row after row of links to individual sources with a few aesthetic deviations.
But with the help of NeevaAI, the startup wants to contribute to reimagining search.
These quotes are key to avoiding the “black box” controversy that engulfs many AI technologies. The idea here is that by showing people where it’s getting information from, it not only promotes transparency, but also gives those who posted content online the trust they deserve and increases their chances of subsequent referral traffic.
But some questions he just can’t answer. In these cases, familiar links and website-specific excerpts are used by default, which users can browse and find the answer for themselves.
In an interview with TechCrunch for this article, Ramaswami explained some of the reasons behind the development of NeevaAI, including how he decides when and where to generate responses from multiple sources.
“Roughly speaking, this works for questions that we can find on reputable websites that answer this question,” Ramaswamy explained.
So, unlike many of the fancy examples we’ve seen so far, where ChatGPT was tasked with writing lyrics in the style of, for example, Nick Cave, NeevaAI won’t help you here. Similarly, if you ask him a tricky question – intentionally or not – he will most likely not give an answer, returning to the usual list of links so that you can explore on your own.
“Our goal with NeevaAI was to be up and running in the first place, we don’t want to tell you the wrong things,” continued Ramaswamy. “Therefore, we chose a secure way to obtain (information).”
An example here would be if someone asked NeevaAI when Boris Johnson was King of the United Kingdom, rather than the more precise question of when he was Prime Minister. This is a question that has the potential to fool any search engine, because there will undoubtedly be pages on the Internet that contain all the words in the question, so NeevaAI has a great responsibility to ensure that he understands the question and provides an answer. an adequate answer. Or no answer at all, what will he do with questions he is not sure of the answer to.
Obviously NeevaAI’s answer is not perfect here. A more reasonable answer – which a human would no doubt have given – would be to tell the user that Boris Johnson was not really the king, but he was the prime minister. Or at least generate a more satisfying response that encourages the user to clarify the question. And that’s something that could come to NeevaAI in a future iteration, although it’s not yet clear what form this will eventually take.
“If you ask him some stupid question, he will simply not answer anything, because there is nothing on the network that indicates whether it is true or false,” Ramaswami said. “So when there is no answer, we refuse to answer. But we’ll fix that soon.”
Neeva does not plan to limit the scope of its AI efforts to simple search engine-based information discovery and is likely to expand into connected verticals in the future.
Today, NeevaAI is available in English for registered users on both free and premium plans in the UK and Canada, and in local languages in Germany, France, and Spain.