AI-Boosted Brave Browser now summarizes search engine responses

Microsoft’s AI-enhanced Bing and Google’s Bard have begun testing the latest type of AI technology, the big language models that paid such a big wow factor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. But a much smaller player, Brave, on Thursday added some of those language processing capabilities directly to its browser with a feature that summarizes search results.

The feature, called the Summarizer, generates some abbreviated explanations for questions in some search results, combining it with footnoted links to its information sources. It’s also designed to offer richer text snippets than you see in more common search results.

It’s a new example of an overhaul sweeping the search engine business. Google has been adding more immediate answers to search queries for years, displaying maps, hours of operation, song lyrics and product recommendations alongside traditional links to others’ websites. The AI ‚Äč‚Äčrevolution takes this utility to a new level, for example with Bing’s new AI-enhanced search results and sometimes fraught chat capabilities.

Large language models, like the one powering ChatGPT, are trained to recognize patterns from vast swaths of text from the Internet. They can deliver impressive results, composing coherent sentences and even writing essays on a huge variety of topics. But LLM AIs don’t really know anything, and their authoritative tone can be misleading. Brave, which created its own LLM for Summarizer, offered cautions about its use.

“It’s important to remind users that they shouldn’t believe everything an AI system produces, just as they shouldn’t believe everything posted on the web,” Brave said of Summarizer. “At the risk of stating the obvious, we should not suspend critical thinking about anything we consume, no matter how impressive the results of AI models may be.”

In my tests, it provided useful results for some queries — for example, “What is pixel binning?” and “What do the numbers on the sides of tires mean?” But he also struggled to handle coherent time elements for topical questions like, “What happened to the Chinese spy balloon?” and “Will the EU approve Microsoft’s takeover of Activision?”

Brave offers a comment button for comments on Summarizer results, and the feature can be turned off in the settings.

Brave Summarizer tries to summarize website information in presentable terms, but it’s not perfect.

Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Brave is an unusual example of an independent browser company that carved out a niche for itself despite the dominance of Google’s Chrome and, to a lesser extent, Apple’s Safari. The company is based on Chromium, the Google-led software project that powers Chrome, but has built its own search engine and ad system.

Brave gained ground in the browser market by removing ads and tracking technology from websites by default, substituting its own privacy-protecting ad technology as an alternative. About 57 million people now use the browser every month, and the search engine that the company built into the browser now contains 22 million queries per day.

Summarizer is now available in desktop and mobile browsers.

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