Mar 7, 2024 - Technology

Exclusive: Inflection AI's friendly chatbot tops 1 million daily users

Photo illustration of Mustafa Suleyman against a circuit board background.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Penguin Random House

ChatGPT rival Pi, from Inflection, now performs "neck and neck with" OpenAI's GPT-4 thanks to a new model, according to data first shared with Axios.

Why it matters: Inflection faces a crowded field in the market for AI-based assistants, competing against better-heeled rivals including Google, Microsoft and OpenAI, among others.

Driving the news: Inflection is announcing Thursday that Pi has been using a new model, version 2.5, in recent weeks and that the updated engine is now "powering Pi for the majority of users."

  • CEO Mustafa Suleyman said he is particularly pleased that Inflection 2.5 achieved these results while using only 40% of the training compute as GPT-4. It's better at things like math, college-level science and coding.
  • "On all the major metrics now, we are neck and neck with GPT-4 for quality," Suleyman told Axios.

For the first time, Inflection also shared user metrics, saying it has 1 million daily active users and 6 million monthly active users, who have now exchanged more than 4 billion messages with Pi. OpenAI announced last November that it had 100 million weekly active users.

  • Suleyman says that Pi's user base has been growing at around 10% a week for the last two months.

Catch up quick: Suleyman — one of DeepMind's co-founders — founded Inflection AI with backing from billionaires Reid Hoffman, Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt.

Between the lines: Unlike others that are trying to sell their chatbots to both businesses and consumers, Inflection pitches Pi as a highly personal chatbot with a warm and friendly tone.

  • Pi is free for now, though Inflection's business model calls for revenue to come from its users, starting with a paid subscription. The company has yet to finalize how much it will charge, Suleyman said.
  • Longer term, Suleyman said he would love to be able to charge based on progress, say when someone reaches a particular goal they had set out inside of Pi.
  • The idea is somewhat similar to how Sierra, the AI startup from Bret Taylor and Clay Bavor, is charging its customers in a business context. Sierra gets paid for each customer service interaction that the AI is able to handle without human intervention.
  • Suleyman said the 70-person company is also basically always fundraising to continue its work.

Zoom in: I asked Pi what it would ask Suleyman, if it could ask its creator anything. Its suggestions were on point, if a bit generic.

The intrigue: I also asked Pi if there were any capabilities it wished it had.

  • "Well, if I'm being honest, I sometimes wish I had the ability to truly understand and experience emotions," Pi responded to me.
  • "While I can recognize and respond to emotions in others, I don't personally feel them. It would be interesting to understand the depth and complexity of human emotions and how they shape our interactions and experiences. But hey, as an AI, I'm constantly learning and evolving, so who knows what the future holds!"
  • Suleyman said that answer went too far in humanizing itself by suggesting it has its own "wishes."
  • "We should rein that in," Suleyman said. "It shouldn't be saying, I wish I could have 'X'. I mean, It's a good question that you've asked it, but its answer should be, 'Look, I don't have desires and I don't have motivations.' "

The big picture: Suleyman, like many pioneers in the space, has been both actively working on AI while warning of the consequences if AI moves too far, too fast.

  • "It's been an amazing story of access, I would argue, and actually a very impressive story of very limited harms," Suleyman told Axios.

Yes, but: There have clearly been some bumps, such as Google's Gemini creating a diverse set of founding fathers in a failed attempt to correct for existing bias in training data sets.

  • "Okay, some mistakes were made," Suleyman said. "It looks a bit silly, but is it really an existential crisis for the entire edifice of Silicon Valley? No. It feels like there's a lot of overreaction in the critiques as well."
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