When ChatGPT first came out, people called it a replacement for Google, which is quite tenable. The AI chatbot almost always provides a detailed explanation for everything, even for weirdly specific queries. Conversely, there’s a lot of digging around involved to arrive at what you want with Google. That’s not to say using traditional search engines is a laborious process – it’s just that human laziness compels us to always ask, “is there an easier way?”
And that’s where AI search engines come in. Using some of that artificial intelligence magic, they yield far more relevant information by taking the task of digging upon themselves. They also fix ChatGPT’s biggest shortcoming – no internet access, meaning no real-time information retrieval.
Google already does something similar with its Featured Snippets, but the feature mostly just picks out an excerpt from a top website and shows it to the user. AI search engines are trying to expand upon this ability by acting in a more human-like manner. In the simplest sense, they read through the data on the internet, then explain it to the user in their own words. The output using this method is often a lot more specific and yet, easier to understand.
Among the first to implement a feature like this was the privacy-focused search engine You.com. Searching on it now will also let you allow a ChatGPT-like chatbot to have a stab at your query. Called YouChat, the bot is being offered as an alternative way to search for something on You. In our limited testing of the product, we found it to be “utilitarian” in its responses. But there’s also one tiny kink – the feature doesn’t automatically work its magic when you search for something on You. Accessing it requires an additional step. You’ve to head to the “Chat” section.
How Neeva is different
Then there’s Neeva’s implementation. Obviously, the AI search engine is a lot more confident in its abilities because you don’t need to navigate to a separate page/section to access AI-generated search results – instead, you get it right at the top.
A key difference between Neeva’s and You’s interfaces is that while You uses a ChatGPT-like UI, Neeva’s output resembles Google’s featured snippets, which takes a snippet out of the best result and displays it at the top of the page. In other words, the AI-generated response is the very first thing you see when you search for something on Neeva. The only thing you need to do on your end to get started is create a Neeva account, because otherwise, it chooses to remain a “dumb” search engine.
Not all queries get Neeva’s AI to chime in, though. You only get AI search results for queries that could be answered better with AI-generated responses, or at least that’s what it looked like to us. Asking today’s weather displays the classic weather widget because that’s obviously a better way to see weather. Basically, the AI only seems to kick in for queries that are phrased as questions, although co-founder Ramaswmy Sridhar does say that Neeva AI will trigger on more searches “in the coming months.”
– Only triggers on question-y queries, not head [weather] or navigational [hacker news] and others.
– Says “AI can’t answer” when you ask certain answerable questions (middle name for someone without one).
– Semantically identical queries can have very diff results!
— Deedy (@debarghya_das) January 7, 2023
Neeva also seems to do a better job than You.com at detecting irrelevant questions, or questions that do not really have an answer. When asked Virat Kohli’s middle name, You.com responded that it’s “Prem,” which is actually his father’s name. Meanwhile, Neeva chose not to respond at all since “there aren’t enough pages or facts to answer it.”
The road ahead
6/ The future of AI and search is bright, and we are grateful to help unlock its power for everyone 🔐
With your support we’ll continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible with search
Our summaries will get richer (better name disambiguation soon!) and more task specific
— ramaswamy.eth (@RamaswmySridhar) January 6, 2023
Apart from Neeva AI triggering on more searches in the coming months, Neeva co-founder Sridhar Ramaswamy also plans on making the AI summaries richer (with better name disambiguation soon) and more task-specific. Currently, Neeva AI does occasionally mix up information from several personalities when their names are identical.
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