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

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.

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Reka translating

(Image credit: Future)
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Reka AI Barbie

(Image credit: Future)

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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Google warning its own staff about chatbots may be a bad sign

It seems that despite the massive push to increase its own market share in the AI chatbot-verse, Google’s parent company Alphabet has been warning its own staff about the dangers of AI chatbots.

“The Google parent has advised employees not to enter its confidential materials into AI chatbots” and warned “its engineers to avoid direct use of computer code that chatbots can generate,” according to a report from Reuters. The reason for these security precautions, which an increasing number of companies and organizations have been cautioning their workers concerning these publicly available chat programs, is twofold. 

One is that human reviewers, which have been found to essentially power chatbots like ChatGPT, could read sensitive data inputted in chats. Another reason is that researchers found AI could reproduce the data it absorbed and create a leak risk. Google stated to Reuters that “it aimed to be transparent about the limitations of its technology.”

Meanwhile, Google has been rolling out its own chatbot Google Bard to 180 countries and in more than 40 languages, with billions of dollars in investment as well as advertising and cloud revenue from its AI programs. It’s also been expanding its AI toolset to other Google products like Maps and Lens, despite the reservations of some in leadership around the potential internal security challenges presented by the programs. 

The duality of Google 

One reason for why Google is trying to have it both ways is to avoid any potential business harm. As stated before, the tech giant has invested heavily in this technology, and any major controversy or security slip-up could cost Google a huge amount of money.

Other businesses have been attempting to set up similar standards on how their employees interact with chatbot AI while on the job. Some have confirmed this notion with Reuters including Samsung, Amazon, and Deutsche Bank. Apple did not confirm but has reportedly done the same

In fact, Samsung outright banned ChatGPT and other generative AI from its workplace after it reportedly suffered three incidents of employees leaking sensitive information via ChatGPT earlier in 2023. This is especially damaging as the chatbot retains any entered data, meaning internal trade secrets from Samsung are now essentially in the hands of OpenAI.

Though it seems quite hypocritical, there are plenty of reasons why Google and other companies are internally being so cautious about AI chatbots. I wish it could extend that caution to how rapidly it develops and publicly pushes that same tech, however.

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5 ways POS systems help you manage staff

Long gone are the days when POS systems were only used for making sales. Today’s cloud POS systems are management tools that can be used to do everything from managing your inventory and suppliers to tracking the activity of employees – whether it’s hours worked or sales made. 

Today, POS systems can even manage employee schedules and streamline HR and training, putting all of your essential business data and reports when and where you need them.

If they're used effectively, POS systems save time and money and have the potential to improve the entire staff management system. Let's take a look at the most common ways your POS system can help manage staff.

1. POS systems offer easier time tracking

POS systems can help accurately track when employees are working. Naturally, this is a critical part of properly managing your employees. That's why outdated clocking in and out systems can be a slow, frustrating and time-consuming experience for employees themselves.

Some POS systems offer an efficient and quick time tracking solution, for both you and your employees. In a lot of cases, POS software enables employees to use a secure PIN when clocking in or out and can even create personal profiles for workers. 

This lets both them and you see how many hours they’ve worked in a day, week, or month, thereby minimizing time fraud. Seeing as it’s estimated that time theft costs U.S. employers more than $ 400 billion per year in lost productivity, this is crucial. 

Employees on their mobile phones POS systems

POS systems can track employee working hours to the minute (Image credit: Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels)

For businesses that involve tipping, there are systems that won’t let an employee clock out without declaring their tips and/or performing a till count, which can aid in cash management purposes. 

While different POS time clocks will come with different capabilities, it’s a feature that can greatly benefit your business, as this is an efficient way to streamline and consolidate multiple records into a single system. 

For example, some time clocks can also integrate with payroll and this automation can simplify calculations of who is owed what when they work different roles – such as a hostess versus a waiter in a restaurant setting. And, finally, a POS with a good timekeeping system can also simplify payroll when employees work overtime at a different rate of pay.

2. Streamlined scheduling 

One of the most tedious parts of managing employees is making out the schedule – that is, if you’re still doing it on paper or a whiteboard. With a modern POS system, you can not only track employee hours, but you can make on-the-fly updates and changes in the system in a way that completely streamlines the process. 

And, while it’s convenient to set up the times your employees are scheduled to work for the next week, most POS systems also allow managers to accept or reject time off requests and shift trades. Some even have integrations that let you set up a task list and goals for your staff. Better still, because it’s cloud-based software, you can access it from anywhere at any time, meaning you can quickly and easily make last-minute changes.

It’s also important to determine how many people you’ll need on the clock at any given time and, with the right data at your fingertips, this task becomes much easier. Most modern POS solutions provide data and reports on your peak sales and busiest hours and you can use that information to figure out how many employees to bring on at any given time.

3. Improved customer skills and interaction 

One of the biggest benefits of today’s modern POS systems is the introduction of mobile capabilities. Instead of having to wait in line at the checkout, a mobile POS system paves the way for mobile checkout, which also gives employees more opportunities to interact with the customers. Employees can answer inventory questions for a customer and even complete a transaction, thus streamlining the retail experience.

mPOS transaction values are “predicted to exceed $ 1.9 trillion by 2024, up from $ 850 billion in 2019”

Juniper Research

If you don’t currently offer mobile POS in your store, you’re going to soon be in the minority. Retailers are quickly realizing how it improves employee efficiency and effectiveness, which improves the bottom line.

Indeed, mPOS transaction values are “predicted to exceed $ 1.9 trillion by 2024, up from $ 850 billion in 2019,” and according to one survey, “90% of respondents agree or strongly agree that mPOS is cost effective,” with 72% of retailers surveyed accepting mobile payments, compared to 51% in 2017.

4. Detailed employee activity reporting 

POS data can reveal critical insights about your business – both the good and the bad. While you would like to be able to trust your staff 100% of the time, the fact of the matter is that employee theft costs U.S. businesses $ 50 billion annually. The first line of defence in preventing this expensive incident is a POS system with comprehensive case management reporting. 

More than just inputting a start and an end cash count, modern POS systems can provide comprehensive reports for till count before and after shift changes and carefully document cash-ins and cash-outs, among other things involving security. 

On the flip side, POS systems with detailed employee reports are also the easiest way to track performance so you can identify – and reward – top employees. And, as many businesses know, employee rewards and recognition can truly pay off both for employers and their staff.  A recent study found that 63% of employees who are recognized are very unlikely to look for a new job, and 40% of employed Americans would put additional energy into their work if they were recognized more often.

It's also possible to run reports to find out who your top and poorest performing employees are, which employees process the most sales, who is working overtime and so on. You can then use all of this information, both to make strategic scheduling decisions, reward high performers and provide extra training to boost productivity for employees who aren’t performing as well. 

5. Smoother employee training  

best pos

Invest the time and ensure that staff are fully trained on your POS system (Image credit: Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash)

Last, but certainly not least is employee training. You can have the greatest employee in the world filled with high morale and ambition, but without proper POS training, they won’t be able to reach their full potential. When introducing a POS system into your store, it’s crucial that you properly train them on how the system works – and how it benefits them and will make their job that much easier.

The majority of cloud-based POS software is specifically designed to be as easy to use as possible. However, every system is different and will require a specific set of skills that may take some time to acquire. That’s why, when selecting a POS system, it’s important to think about the onboarding process for both new and current employees. 

For example, how difficult will it be to train employees on this system? Does the interface include a training mode built right into it? Are you provided with comprehensive training materials? Will the vendor offer on-site training and support?

The more time you invest in training your staff to use a new POS, the greater the likelihood that the transition will be smooth and you’ll reap all the beneficial rewards. 

Your POS system and employee management  

From training employees to use the POS system itself to using the POS system to manage your employees, it’s safe to say that this technology is the backbone of your business. 

Along with tracking inventory and suppliers, it helps you manage your staffing levels, employee hours and overall sales performance. What's more, by optimizing your employee management, you’re better able to streamline your business – boosting not only the customer experience, but also your bottom line. 

Further reading

If you're looking for more information about POS systems and the benefits they bring, then check out our expert guides to understanding the cost of a POS system, how to choose the best POS system for your business.

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