The Financial Times unveils Ask FT AI chatbot for subscribers

The Financial Times unveils Ask FT AI chatbot for subscribers

The Financial Times has recently introduced a new generative AI chatbot named Ask FT, designed to respond to questions posed by its subscribers. This innovative tool employs natural language processing to provide users with tailored answers sourced from the extensive archives of the publication. Unlike other generalized AI bots available in the market, such as ChatGPT or Copilot, Ask FT offers information derived from decades of reputable publications, ensuring accuracy and reliability.

When tested with inquiries like “Who manages Microsoft’s AI products?” Ask FT promptly delivered an updated response while referencing recent news regarding Microsoft’s recruitment of DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman to lead their AI division. The chatbot includes bracketed numbers corresponding to specific FT articles for transparency, along with the time period during which the information was published.

Despite its impressive capabilities, Ask FT has displayed inconsistencies in certain responses. For instance, during testing, the tool erroneously included Nikki Haley in its answer to a question about the 2024 US presidential election, despite her withdrawal from the race. It is important to acknowledge these limitations when relying on AI technologies for information retrieval.

Currently accessible to a select group of FT Professional tier subscribers, Ask FT caters primarily to business professionals and institutions. Powered by Claude, a large language model developed by Anthropic, the chatbot may potentially undergo changes in its underlying technology. FT’s chief product officer manager, Lindsey Jayne, emphasizes the importance of being “model agnostic” to ensure optimal performance.

Ask FT can address a wide range of queries, from current events like government funding allocations to broader topics like cryptocurrency’s environmental impact. By mining the FT’s archives and providing citations, the chatbot offers insights into complex subjects that require in-depth research. For example, when asked about YouTube’s origins, it accurately identified the platform’s founders and inception date.

Evolving Technology and User Adaptation

Reflecting on past experiences with similar AI tools, FT’s approach to enhancing user experience and reliability sets Ask FT apart from its predecessors. While acknowledging the necessity of innovation and adaptation in the digital landscape, Jayne emphasizes the importance of strategic evolution over chasing trends. The ongoing feedback and refinement process aim to ensure the chatbot’s continuous improvement and relevance.

The Financial Times’ Ask FT AI chatbot represents a significant step towards enhancing information retrieval for its subscribers. By leveraging decades of credible content and adapting to user feedback, the tool showcases the potential for AI technologies to revolutionize access to knowledge. While facing challenges and limitations, such as occasional inaccuracies, Ask FT sets a benchmark for intelligent information processing and delivery in the modern digital age.


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