Further Adventures with AI...

Arc, Arc Search, and Perplexity AI

Further Adventures with AI...
Image: DALL-E

I wrote a little while back about Mem AI and how useful it could be as a basic script editor. Well, as is the way with AI development, a lot has happened since then...

Last week, the Browser Company of New York, creators of the game-changing Arc Browser, unveiled their plans for the next few months. The video is worth watching, not just for the content, but for the great presentation:

A couple of days before that video dropped, the Browser Company launched Arc Search for iOS:

Arc Search is one of the best iPhone apps I’ve ever used | Digital Trends
Arc Search tones down the clutter your average browser, but serves a breathtaking formula for looking up information on the web that will easily win you over.

Imagine this, an iPhone app that responds to your search query by creating a webpage in just a few seconds that provides a bespoke answer to your question. On first trying this, I discovered I had immediately moved on in my mind from the idea of ever really needing to see a set of search results again.

A couple of days AFTER the Arc announcement (these guys move fast), the company notified users that we could now select Perplexity as the default browser in all iterations of Arc.

I didn't know Perplexity, but it had been mentioned just hours earlier by a friend. What is Perplexity? Let's have Perplexity answer that...

"Perplexity AI is a cutting-edge artificial intelligence chat tool designed to function as a powerful search engine with advanced capabilities. Unlike traditional search engines, Perplexity AI offers a more interactive and dynamic way to find information. It utilizes a large language model and machine learning techniques to process user queries and generate responses that are informed by real-time data. This makes it akin to having a personal Google search engine but with enhanced features that provide a more generative text experience.

The platform is designed to be user-friendly, requiring no technical expertise to use. Users can simply type their questions into the search bar on the Perplexity AI website, and the AI will search for the best answer, presenting it along with the sources from which the information was derived. This approach not only offers accurate answers but also cites the sources, making it a valuable tool for content generation, research, and knowledge exploration."

So, essentially, Perplexity is ChatGPT but its information sources are live and up-to-the-minute and it cross-references all the information it finds to try to sort fact from conjecture and presents its results with sources and footnotes so you can check them yourself.

I find running Perplexity as the default within Arc Search to be a little much; sometimes you do just want a list of results without explanation. But bookmarking Perplexity within Arc desktop, and having the app as a standalone on my phone, has been an extraordinary experience. It's not just useful to be able to ask questions AND follow-up questions (which the system understands within the context of the conversation you're having with it), but it's a genuinely enriching experience to have answers explained and contextualised in this way.

I can see obstacles up ahead - I love that I no longer see adds and pop-ups etc, but if we get rid of these completely, how do online companies generate revenue? But this is undoubtedly a glimpse of the future and it has already revolutionised my research process, as well as significantly speeding it up.