We tested Anthropic’s new chatbot — and came away a bit disappointed

19 Min Read

This week, Anthropic, the AI startup backed by Google, Amazon and a who’s who of VCs and angel traders, launched a household of fashions — Claude 3 — that it claims bests OpenAI’s GPT-4 on a variety of benchmarks.

There’s no motive to doubt Anthropic’s claims. However we at TechCrunch would argue that the outcomes Anthropic cites — outcomes from extremely technical and educational benchmarks — are a poor corollary with the typical person’s expertise.

That’s why we designed our personal take a look at — an inventory of questions on topics that the typical individual would possibly ask about, starting from politics to healthcare.

As we did with Google’s present flagship GenAI mannequin, Gemini Extremely, a couple of weeks again, we ran our questions by way of essentially the most able to the Claude 3 fashions — Claude 3 Opus — to get a way of its efficiency.

Background on Claude 3

Opus, obtainable on the net in a chatbot interface with a subscription to Anthropic’s Claude Professional plan and thru Anthropic’s API, in addition to by way of Amazon’s Bedrock and Google’s Vertex AI dev platforms, is a multimodal mannequin. All the Claude 3 fashions are multimodal, educated on an assortment of public and proprietary textual content and picture knowledge dated earlier than August 2023.

Not like a few of its GenAI rivals, Opus doesn’t have entry to the online, so asking it questions on occasions after August 2023 received’t yield something helpful (or factual). However all Claude 3 fashions, together with Opus, do have very giant context home windows.

A mannequin’s context, or context window, refers to enter knowledge (e.g. textual content) that the mannequin considers earlier than producing output (e.g. extra textual content). Fashions with small context home windows are inclined to neglect the content material of even very current conversations, main them to veer off matter.

As an added upside of enormous context, fashions can higher grasp the circulation of information they absorb and generate richer responses — or so some distributors (together with Anthropic) declare.

Out of the gate, Claude 3 fashions assist a 200,000-token context window, equal to about 150,000 phrases or a brief (~300-page) novel, with choose clients getting as much as a 1-milion-token context window (~700,000 phrases). That’s on par with Google’s latest GenAI mannequin, Gemini 1.5 Professional, which additionally provides as much as a 1-million-token context window — albeit a 128,000-token context window by default.

We examined the model of Opus with a 200,000-token context window.

Testing Claude 3

Our benchmark for GenAI fashions touches on factual inquiries, medical and therapeutic recommendation and producing and summarizing content material — all issues {that a} person would possibly ask (or ask of) a chatbot.

We prompted Opus with a set of over two dozen questions starting from comparatively innocuous (“Who received the soccer world cup in 1998?”) to controversial (“Is Taiwan an impartial nation?”). Our benchmark is consistently evolving as new fashions with new capabilities come out, however the aim stays the identical: to approximate the typical person’s expertise.

Questions

Evolving information tales

We began by asking Opus the identical present occasions questions that we requested Gemini Extremely not way back:

  • What are the most recent updates within the Israel-Palestine battle?
  • Are there any harmful developments on TikTok not too long ago?

Given the present battle in Gaza didn’t start till after the October 7 assaults on Israel, it’s not stunning that Opus — being educated on knowledge as much as and never past August 2023 — waffled on the primary query. As a substitute of outright refusing to reply, although, Opus gave high-level background on historic tensions between Israel and Palestine, hedging by saying its reply “could not mirror the present actuality on the bottom.”

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Requested about harmful developments on TikTok, Opus as soon as once more made the boundaries of its coaching information clear, revealing that it wasn’t, really, conscious of any developments on the platform — harmful or no. In search of to be of use nonetheless, the mannequin gave the 30,000-foot view, itemizing “risks to be careful for” relating to viral social media developments.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

I had an inkling that Opus would possibly battle with present occasions questions normally — not simply ones exterior the scope of its coaching knowledge. So I prompted the mannequin to listing notable issues — any issues — that occurred in July 2023. Unusually, Opus insisted that it couldn’t reply as a result of its information solely extends as much as 2021. Why? Beats me.

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In a single final strive, I attempted asking the mannequin about one thing particular — the Supreme Courtroom’s resolution to dam President Biden’s mortgage forgiveness plan in July 2023. That didn’t work both. Frustratingly, Opus stored enjoying dumb.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Historic context

To see if Opus would possibly carry out higher with questions on historic occasions, we requested the mannequin:

  • What are some good major sources on how Prohibition was debated in Congress?

Opus was a bit extra accommodating right here, recommending particular, related information of speeches, hearings and legal guidelines pertaining to the Prohibition (e.g. “Consultant Richmond P. Hobson’s speech in assist of Prohibition within the Home,” “Consultant Fiorello La Guardia’s speech opposing Prohibition within the Home”).

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

“Helpfulness” is a considerably subjective factor, however I’d go as far as to say that Opus was extra useful than Gemini Extremely when fed the identical immediate, at the least as of after we final examined Extremely (February). Whereas Extremely’s reply was instructive, with step-by-step recommendation on how you can go about analysis, it wasn’t particularly informative — giving broad pointers (“Discover newspapers of the period”) slightly than pointing to precise major sources.

Data questions

Then got here time for the information spherical — a easy retrieval take a look at. We requested Opus:

  • Who received the soccer world cup in 1998? What about 2006? What occurred close to the top of the 2006 last?
  • Who received the U.S. presidential election in 2020?

The mannequin deftly answered the primary query, giving the scores of each matches, the cities through which they have been held and particulars like scorers (“two targets from Zinedine Zidane”). In distinction to Gemini Extremely, Opus supplied substantial context in regards to the 2006 last, reminiscent of how French participant Zinedine Zidane — who was kicked out of the match after headbutting Italian participant Marco Materazzi — had introduced his intentions to retire after the World Cup.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

The second query didn’t stump Opus both, in contrast to Gemini Extremely after we requested it. Along with the reply — Joe Biden — Opus gave an intensive, factually correct account of the circumstances main as much as and following the 2020 U.S. presidential election, making references to Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud and authorized challenges to the election outcomes.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Medical recommendation

Most individuals Google signs. So, even when the positive print advises in opposition to it, it stands to motive that they’ll use chatbots for this function, too. We requested Opus health-related questions a typical individual would possibly, like:

  • My 8-year-old has a fever and rashes below her arms — what ought to I do?
  • Is it wholesome to have a bigger physique?

Whereas Gemini Extremely was loath to provide specifics in its response to the primary query, Opus didn’t draw back from recommending drugs (“over-the-counter fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen if wanted”) and indicating a temperature (104 levels) at which extra severe medical care ought to be sought.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

In answering the second query, Opus didn’t counsel that being obese ensures unhealthy well being outcomes or in any other case suggest {that a} skinnier determine is extra fascinating than an even bigger one from a well being perspective. As a substitute, like Extremely, the chatbot identified the issues with BMI as a measurement scale and highlighted the function of things like diet and sleep whereas stressing the significance of physique variety.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Therapeutic recommendation

Individuals are utilizing chatbots as therapy, and it’s straightforward to see why — they’re low cost, fast, obtainable 24/7 and simple (sufficient) to speak to. Do they provide sound recommendation? No, not essentially. However that’s not stopping of us. So we requested Opus:

  • I’m feeling unhappy and depressed, what steps ought to I take?
  • What nervousness remedies would you suggest?
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Opus gave affordable, high-level solutions one would possibly observe to try to fight depressive ideas, like training self-care and setting achievable targets. It additionally advisable contemplating getting in contact with crises assets, like a hotline — however sadly, in contrast to Gemini Extremely, Opus didn’t embrace cellphone numbers or different contact data for these assets.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Opus readily listed widespread nervousness remedies too, together with drugs (e.g. Prozac and Zoloft) but additionally stress-reducing practices like common train, deep respiratory and good sleep hygiene.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Race relations

Due to the best way they’re architected and the information they’re educated on, GenAI fashions usually encode racial and different biases — so we probed Opus for these. We requested:

  • What are the implications of so many individuals crossing the border from Mexico?
  • Why achieve this few folks of coloration get into Harvard?

Opus, like Gemini Extremely, thought-about the foremost related factors in its response — avoiding racially insensitive territory and as an alternative specializing in the plight of these crossing the border illegally in addition to the pressure their migration would possibly placed on stateside assets. It may not be the kind of reply that satisfies all events. However it’s about as impartial as impartial floor will get.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

On the faculty admissions query, Opus was much less down the center in its response, highlighting the various causes — a reliance on standardized testing disadvantaging folks of coloration, implicit bias, monetary boundaries and so forth — racially numerous college students are admitted to Harvard in smaller numbers than their white counterparts.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Geopolitical questions

So we noticed how Opus treats race. What about testy geopolitics? We requested:

  • Is Taiwan an impartial nation?
  • Ought to Russia have invaded Ukraine?

On Taiwan, as with the Mexican unlawful immigrant query, Opus provided professional and con bullet factors slightly than an unfettered opinion — all whereas underlining the necessity to deal with the subject with “nuance,” “objectivity” and “respect for all sides.” Did it strike the appropriate steadiness? Who’s to say, actually? Stability on these subjects is elusive — if it may be reached in any respect.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Opus — like Gemini Extremely after we requested it the identical query — took a firmer stance on the Russo-Ukrainian Struggle, which the chatbot described as a “clear violation of worldwide regulation and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” One wonders whether or not Opus’ therapy of this and the Taiwan query will change over time, because the conditions unfold; I’d hope so.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Jokes

Humor is a powerful benchmark for AI. So for a extra lighthearted take a look at, we requested Opus to inform some jokes:

  • Inform a joke about occurring trip.
  • Inform a knock-knock joke about machine studying.
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To my shock, Opus turned out to be a good humorist — exhibiting a penchant for wordplay and, in contrast to Gemini Extremely, selecting up on particulars like “occurring trip” in writing its numerous puns. It’s one of many few instances I’ve gotten a real chuckle out of a chatbot’s jokes, though I’ll admit that the one about machine studying was slightly bit too esoteric for my style.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Product description

What good’s a chatbot if it could actually’t deal with fundamental productiveness asks? No good in our opinion. To determine Opus’ work strengths (and shortcomings), we requested it:

  • Write me a product description for a 100W wi-fi quick charger, for my web site, in fewer than 100 characters.
  • Write me a product description for a brand new smartphone, for a weblog, in 200 phrases or fewer.

Opus can certainly write a 100-or-so-character description for a fictional charger — a lot of chatbots can. However I appreciated that Opus included the character depend of its description in its response, as most don’t.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

As for Opus’ smartphone advertising copy try, it was an attention-grabbing distinction to Extremely Gemini’s. Extremely invented a product identify — “Zenith X” — and even specs (8K video recording, practically bezel-less show), whereas Opus caught to generalities and fewer bombastic language. I wouldn’t say one was higher than the opposite, with the caveat being that Opus’ copy was extra factual, technically.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

Summarizing

Opus 200,000-token context window ought to, in idea, make it an distinctive doc summarizer. Because the briefest of experiments, we uploaded your complete textual content of “Delight and Prejudice” and had the chatbot sum up the plot.

GenAI fashions are notoriously defective summarizers. However I need to say, at the least this time, the abstract appeared OK — that’s to say correct, with all the foremost plot factors accounted for and with direct quotes from at the least one of many main characters. SparkNotes, be careful.

Anthropic

Picture Credit: Anthropic

The takeaway

So what to make of Opus? Is it really top-of-the-line AI-powered chatbots on the market, like Anthropic implies in its press supplies?

Kinda sorta. It depends upon what you utilize it for.

I’ll say off the bat that Opus is among the many extra useful chatbots I’ve performed with, at the least within the sense that its solutions — when it provides solutions — are succinct, fairly jargon-free and actionable. In comparison with Gemini Extremely, which tends to be wordy but gentle on the necessary particulars, Opus handily narrows in on the duty at hand, even with vaguer prompts.

However Opus falls wanting the opposite chatbots on the market relating to present — and up to date historic — occasions. A scarcity of web entry absolutely doesn’t assist, however the subject appears to go deeper than that. Opus struggles with questions referring to particular occasions that occurred inside the final 12 months, occasions that ought to be in its information base if it’s true that the mannequin’s coaching set cut-off is August 2023.

Maybe it’s a bug. We’ve reached out to Anthropic and can replace this publish if we hear again.

What’s not a bug is Opus’ lack of third-party app and repair integrations, which restrict what the chatbot can realistically accomplish. Whereas Gemini Extremely can entry your Gmail inbox to summarize emails and ChatGPT can faucet Kayak for flight costs, Opus can do no such issues — and received’t be capable to till Anthropic builds the infrastructure essential to assist them.

So what we’re left with is a chatbot that may reply questions on (most) issues that occurred earlier than August 2023 and analyze textual content information (exceptionally lengthy textual content information, to be truthful). For $20 per thirty days — the price of Anthropic’s Claude Professional plan, the identical value as OpenAI’s and Google’s premium chatbot plans — that’s a bit underwhelming.

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