Israeli startup offers AI app to spice up writing

Israeli start-up AI21 Labs, which specializes in automatic language processing (more commonly known as NLP), is looking to “spice up” its writing by releasing a new generative function based on artificial intelligence (AI).

Rather than trying to replace the writer with technology that enables computers to learn, AI21 Labs’ new Wordtune Spices feature is designed to play the role of a co-writer to enhance and enrich any written composition with an array of 12 practical tools. ranging from statistics to support an argument to jokes to a wedding speech.

“Our mission at AI21 Labs is to change the way people read and write using AI, while focusing on empowering – not removing or replacing – the writer,” said Ori Goshen, co-founder and co-CEO of AI21 Labs. “Spices is a toolkit that combines the best that man and machine can offer, working alongside writers to inspire better, more effective and more engaging writing, while ensuring that writers themselves have the space and freedom they need to express your thoughts, ideas and information in the best possible way. »

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NLP is the ability of a computer program to understand human language through speech and text.

Following the recent media frenzy over ChatGPT, a fine-tuned language model that uses reinforcement learning to produce human-like text, other startups such as AI21 Labs, co-founded by Professor Amnon Shashua, who is also a co-founder of Mobileye (a company Intel), were quick to create competing models of artificial intelligence.

Read: Rabbi “plagiarizes” AI in speech, proving that the human is not obsolete

Founded in 2017 by Shashua, Goshen and Professor Yoav Shoham, AI21 Labs has created a software platform where developers can build text-based applications such as recommendation engines, chatbots and virtual assistants. The company launched a text simplification tool called Wordtune, a Google Chrome extension that helps customers improve or optimize content, and Wordtune Read, a tool that analyzes and summarizes documents. Wordtune has a few million users and hundreds of thousands of paid users, according to the company.

For students writing term papers, marketers working on blog posts, or associates who need to do reports, Spices offers suggested text inserted into Wordtune. To use the function, the editor must click on the function button that opens a box in the text with a menu list with 12 options, among them, explain, give an example, a counter-argument, a statistic, an analogy or joke . Bookmarks provide suggestions in the text and the author can choose to adopt them or click through for more suggestions.

Israeli startup AI21 Labs launches Wordtune Spices to help users enrich their texts. (Credit: Courtesy)

What sets it apart from ChatGPT, according to the startup, is that Spices is integrated into the writing process and users remain in control of the text they write.

“Almost every other AI-based model out there (including the use of ChatGPT) gives users little control over the end result. The user has to learn to write ‘good prompts’ (that is, learn to talk to the system), to then receive a complete article, which does not reflect his initial idea”, explained Dr. Yoav Levine, co-director of AI21 Laboratories.

“We wanted to create software that would improve the writing process itself and empower users to create content that truly reflects their unique voice and style,” said Levine.

Another element that differentiates Spices from competing AI models, according to AI21 Labs, is that content sources suggested by Spices, containing statistical data or historical facts, are mentioned and come with a link to the source from which the information is taken. . It could be a news article, a Wikipedia article, or any other online source.

“This solves a major problem faced by the large language models that exist today (including ChatGPT) and will help increase user confidence in AI suggestions,” added Levine.

Questioned about the veracity of the information, Levine highlighted that the responsibility is shared with the creator of the text.

“We don’t want to be truth validators,” Levine said. “We think it’s up to the author to decide whether or not to trust the source.”

“That’s why we provide them with a direct link to the website where the information came from, so they can check it out as they write and make an informed human decision,” he added.

To limit misuse of the language model to generate toxic or biased content, AI21 Labs says it has worked on smart filters and other measures to block any attempts to trolling.

“That said, it’s not foolproof, among other reasons because it’s difficult to train a model to make delicate decisions that sometimes even humans struggle with,” admitted Levine. “This is one of the reasons why we believe that AI should not replace humans in writing tasks, but rather be a useful tool in the process. »

In the future, AI21 Labs plans to add specific Spices options for certain verticals, such as legal or medical professionals, as well as extending the feature’s availability to all apps where users write in a web browser, including email and WhatsApp. .

The growing buzz around generative AI has helped AI21 Labs raise funds. In July, the startup raised $64 million in a Series B funding round led by the UK-based Ahren Innovation Capital Fund, with participation from Shashua, Pitango Ventures, Tel Aviv-based TPY Capital, and American billionaire and entrepreneur Mark Leslie, founder of Veritas Technologies.

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