DuckDuckGo is out today with an update that brings a beta of a new feature called DuckAssist. The approach to AI is different from what we’ve seen from OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s broad focus. DuckAssist was designed with the goal of offering “more directly responsive” answers to questions summarized from Wikipedia and similar sources.
DuckDuckGo founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg shared the news in a blog post this morning.
Generative artificial intelligence is hitting the world of search and browsing in a big way. At DuckDuckGo, we’ve been trying to understand the difference between what it could do well in the future and what it can do well right now. But no matter how we decide to use this new technology, we want it to add clear value to our private search and browsing experience.
With that in mind, DuckDuckGo has launched the first version of DuckAssist in beta for all users. As shown above, the “Instant Answer” feature may show up for certain searches at the top with an “Ask” button to get the natural AI response.
DuckAssist uses technology from both OpenAI and Anthropic and will summarize answers from Wikipedia “and occasionally related sites like Britannica — using DuckDuckGo’s active indexing.”
Weinberg highlights that DuckAssist is private, there’s no sign-up required, and it’s available now.
DuckDuckGo is planning to launch more AI-assisted features “in the coming months.” And if the DuckAssist beta goes well, it will officially be added to the browser “in the coming weeks.”
What should you expect from DuckAssist?
For the beta, DuckAssist is designed to be best for answering more objective, straightforward questions.
For this initial trial, DuckAssist is most likely to appear in our search results when users search for questions that have straightforward answers in Wikipedia. Think questions like “what is a search engine index?” rather than more subjective questions like “what is the best search engine?”. We are using the most recent full Wikipedia download available, which is at most a few weeks old. This means DuckAssist will not appear for questions more recent than that, at least for the time being. For those questions, our existing search results page does a better job of surfacing helpful information.
Weinberg also notes that you may not see DuckAssist “on many of our searches yet.” But with the combination of Wikipedia and generative AI, the feature can “vastly increase the number of Instant Answers we can provide.”
Here are some tips if you want to try it out:
- Phrasing your search query as a question makes DuckAssist more likely to appear in search results.
- If you’re fairly confident that Wikipedia has the answer to your query, adding the word “wiki” to your search also makes DuckAssist more likely to appear in search results.
- For now, the DuckAssist beta is only available in English in our browsing apps (iOS, Android, and Mac) and browser extensions (Firefox, Chrome, and Safari). If the trial goes well, we plan to roll it out to all DuckDuckGo search users soon.
- If you don’t want DuckAssist to appear in search results, you can disable “Instant Answers” in search settings. (Note: this will disable all Instant Answers, not just DuckAssist.)
- If DuckAssist has generated an answer for a given topic before, the answer will appear automatically. Otherwise, you can click the ‘Ask’ button to have an answer generated for you in real time.
Check out the full details in DuckDuckGo’s announcement post.
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