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.
Uber is ending the mystery of your ride-sharing rating score. If three drivers gave you 2 stars, you’ll now be able to see it. You won't, however, see which drivers gave you which scores.
After more than a decade in business, whipping out a smartphone and summoning an Uber driver has become second nature for many people, as has the sometimes-awkward process of giving the driver a rating after the trip. However, Uber’s star rating system is a two-way street as drivers also rate passengers. Until now, though, riders could only see an average of their scores. In a company blog post on Wednesday, Uber announced that riders could view a breakdown of their star scores in the app.
“Now, we’re making it easier than ever to see exactly how your rating is calculated, and for the first time, we’re showing you the good (and the bad) ratings you received,” the company wrote.
Understanding how Uber drivers perceive and rate you could be either comforting, “Oh, they notice I’m always on time and in the right place,” or demoralizing, “I guess drivers don't like me eating my foot-long heroes, in their back seats.” At the very least, it might lead to a more egalitarian relationship between riders and drivers.
If you’re ready for this experience, here’s how to access your detailed ratings in the Uber app.
Start by heading to Settings in your Uber app. There, select Privacy and then the Privacy Center. Swipe over to the section titled “Would you like to see a summary of how you use Uber?” In addition to a breakdown of ratings drivers have given you, this menu shows general statistics, such as how many trips you’ve taken, how long you’ve been a member, and more. You can also view information on individual trips you’ve taken and how you paid for them.
The feature is available to all riders and is part of a transparency push by the ridesharing company. Though Uber keeps your data for the duration of the time you have an active account, the ratings you see in the app only reflect an average of the last 500 trips. If you’re looking at your score and wondering how you can bump your average rating, Uber has some tips, most of which are common sense:
Don’t leave trash in the car when you leave
Don’t make the driver wait for you
Don’t be a jerk
Don’t slam the door
Uber also outlined the cities where riders get the best and worst scores from their drivers. Seattle and Washington, DC were among the worst, but New York City ranked the lowest. At the other end of the spectrum, riders in Nashville, St Louis, and San Antonio earned better scores.
Wherever you live, this Uber passenger information could help you make a difference in your and your next Uber driver's shared experience.
Windows 11 can currently be installed on PCs which don’t meet the official system requirements, but Microsoft doesn’t recommend this course of action – and has taken fresh action in a preview build to add a further warning against doing so.
To recap, Windows 11 can be run on a system which doesn’t officially support the OS, but Microsoft has previously cautioned about possible ‘damage’ to a system in this scenario, and noted that vital security updates may not be provided to such PCs either – even though said updates are still delivered to these devices.
But now, Microsoft appears to be getting more serious about letting folks know that their PC shouldn’t be running Windows 11 if it’s not up to scratch regarding the OS requirements. Windows Latest spotted that Albacore, a well-known Twitter leaker and reliable source for Microsoft spillage, tweeted about a new reminder which is in testing for Windows 11.
Upcoming Windows 11 builds will include a small reminder about system requirements atop System Settings in case your device doesn’t meet them. pic.twitter.com/KZ4NkqB7wqFebruary 8, 2022
As you can see, it’s in System Settings, and imparted with the details at the top of the panel. The message lets the user know that the requirements haven’t been met by their PC, with a link to find out more about why this is the case.
Analysis: A hint of stricter enforcement to come?
The appearance of a warning for those actually running Windows 11 on an unsupported machine in this manner – as opposed to during installation – indicates that Microsoft may be tightening loopholes concerning PCs which have been pushed onto the new OS without having the hardware goods to do so officially.
As Microsoft takes more steps like this, it makes us believe that eventually, further moves will be made to ensure PCs that aren’t officially up to spec can’t run the OS fully. The software giant has always said that updates won’t come to these devices, and even though they have been provided up to now – and still are – this is another signal that this will eventually change.
In other words, at some point down the line, security updates will no longer be served to unsupported PCs, which would be a big problem, potentially leaving these systems open to exploit. Or at the very least, more prominent and intrusive warnings may be introduced to ensure that folks running Windows 11 in this way know they shouldn’t be pursuing such a route for the long-term with their device.
As the year begins to end and people focus on taking a well-earned break over the Christmas holidays, it's a good time to take stock of life, work, and love. We're only focused on the second of those three today and specifically email usage.
TechRadar Pro has commissioned an exclusive poll of 500 respondents from OnePulse showing which email services people use and some details about how.
Surprise, surprise Gmail comes out on top.
A lot of people absolutely hate email, and with good reason. Clients, especially default clients like Apple Mail, are often slow and geared towards casual users, not power users at work.
On top of that, Slack and Teams, plus a bunch of others, have sprouted up to fulfil work-specific chat needs – even Meta has got in on the action with Workplace.
To email or not to email
So, let's break down the results.
According to our survey, the dominant email service is Gmail – and it's not even close. A full 59% of respondents use Google's email offerings, followed by Outlook (19.7%), Yahoo (13%), iCloud (2.9%), and others (5%).
But what about power users? Well, they're in the minority too. Most people (75.6%) have between one and 10,000 emails in their inbox, followed by 16.75% who have between 10,001 and 100,000, and then a rarified 7.59% have over 100,001 or more.
The story is similar for email storage: just over half (50.2%) either don't know or don't care how full their inbox is. The rest have up to 5GB filled (32.8%) or over 5GB (17%).
Jim Szafranski never really wanted to become a CEO; it was something that seemed to happen to him, rather than something he deliberately made happen. But as it turns out, he has a knack for it.
Szafranski took over at visual communications company Prezi roughly eighteen months ago to preside over a change of direction, replacing founder Peter Arvai. Previously, the firm had specialized in design and presentation software, but has now turned its attention to video presentations.
Prezi had already begun to lay the foundations for this shift before the pandemic, but remote working saw demand skyrocket for a service that could help people create and deliver professional virtual presentations. The company put its foot on the gas and Prezi Video is now its flagship product.
As one of the main architects of the Prezi Video project, and as someone who had worked with the video conferencing titans (such as Microsoft and Google) in a previous life, Szafranski found himself next in line for the throne.
The right person for the job
Although he has now acclimatized to the level and breadth of responsibility that falls on the shoulders of a chief executive, Szafranski told TechRadar Pro he sometimes found himself doubting his suitability for the role.
While he had always been a student of both business and technology, and had racked up many years of experience at an executive level, he was to some extent blindsided by the opportunity when it presented itself.
“I love to learn, so I always tried to put myself in a position where I could learn from my environment and the people around me. And I kind of let the growth take care of itself,” he explained.
“But when I joined Prezi, the plan wasn’t that I would someday take over from Peter [Arvai] – that wasn’t even a discussion. The focus was on scaling the business and building out functions like sales and marketing.”
After some consideration, Szafranski agreed to take on the post, giving himself and Arvai three months to put the necessary measures in place. The best piece of advice Szafranski received during this time, he says, was simply to be himself, and not to emulate the archetypal CEO of the movies.
“Obviously, the board of directors and previous CEO thought about this carefully and chose to elect me for the role. This advice was an important reminder to approach situations in the same way I have always done; to do what felt natural.”
Mercifully, stepping into the CEO role at Prezi has not required Szafranski to tear it all up and start again, because he had inherited the foundations of a healthy business. His task is only to steer in a slightly different direction.
Virtual presentations, but different
Szafranski is often quizzed about what makes Prezi Video different from regular virtual presentation services. With words alone, this question can be a little difficult to answer, but the difference becomes immediately apparent when you see the product in action.
Prezi Video sits like a veneer on top of video conferencing services (Zoom, Teams, Meet etc.), adding a layer of gloss and interactivity that makes presentations much more attractive to the eye.
Unlike with traditional screen-sharing, which conceals the presenter’s video feed, users can bring content onto the screen alongside them in the style of a news anchor. In turn, the presenter is able to see more of the other attendees, which is supposed to help them read the room in the same way they might in-person.
Prezi Video also allows users to interact with on-screen content in real-time, which makes presentations feel slick and polished. There’s no more “next slide, please”; the presenter becomes more like a conductor.
According to Szafranksi, these attributes go a long way to solving the various issues employees have encountered since the transition to remote working, from video conferencing fatigue to a feeling of disconnect with coworkers.
“Ultimately, Prezi Video is about creating a greater level of engagement,” he told us. “People are talking a lot about Zoom fatigue at the moment, but will still log off in the evening to watch a couple of hours of Netflix. Prezi brings TV-like engagement into your business.”
Szafranski also sees products like Prezi Video playing a fundamental role as businesses emerge from the pandemic, by creating a stronger feeling of connection between meeting attendees spread across multiple locations.
“The office was the great productivity hack, because it forced everyone into the same space at the same time. But we’re not going back to that,” he said.
“What has permanently changed is that there will be somebody outside the room at all times, and we’re all going to have to figure out how to hold effective meetings under these conditions.”
Further down the line, Szafranksi envisions Prezi moving into areas like virtual reality, which could open up a new realm of opportunity for interactivity, as well as bringing everyone into the same arena once again.
Looking to the future
As the world climbs out from underneath the pandemic, which brought about a period of extreme and unexpected growth for Prezi, Szafranski is thinking closely about how he can carry momentum forward.
His first step, he explained, has been to surround himself with an executive team capable of putting his vision into action. For example, his new CTO is an expert in content ingestion, having cut his teeth at image library Shutterstock, and Szafranski recently brought onboard a new SVP for Product Management to explore opportunities in immersive video and 3D.
These appointments were designed to prepare the company for a shift in gear. In addition to targeting SMBs and design departments, Szafranski says the goal is now to take Prezi organization-wide at some of the largest companies on the planet.
However, an important question hangs over these ambitions: why don’t the video conferencing giants, with all their money and resources, go out and develop identical functionality? The early warning signs are there; Microsoft recently rolled out a new reporter mode for Teams that allows users to appear in front of shared content.
But Szafranksi says copying Prezi is far more difficult than it might seem. He describes the company’s intellectual property as much more like a game engine (such as Unity) than a piece of software.
“What Prezi does that’s special is serve up content in very spacial ways, which creates much more interactive and layered experiences. And these qualities are certainly not trivial to recreate.”
The alternative for the video conferencing giants, of course, would be an acquisition. Asked whether he thought Microsoft or Zoom might swoop in for Prezi, Szafranski played it cool. It would be his responsibility to field all such offers, he told us, but for now his efforts are focused wholly on taking Prezi in the right direction.