Anthropic’s Claude Brings a New Personality to AI Assistants
Anthropic, an AI safety research company, recently launched their AI assistant Claude after years of development focused on responsibly shaping its “personality.” While big tech giants grab headlines with their massive foundation models, Anthropic has quietly built Claude to prioritize harmless, honest, and helpful interactions.
Claude’s Unique Personality
In the AI world’s race for scale, Anthropic co-founder Daniela Amodei believes seemingly small differences in AI assistants’ personalities and capabilities will prove very consequential. “When you sort of play around with different models, you’ll see these kind of different strengths and weaknesses emerge,” he explains. Claude aims to come across as friendly and eager to help.
Daniela contrasts this to Google’s LaMDA which seems highly apologetic, or Anthropic’s own predecessor model Constitutional AI which was overly polite. “I tend to think of Claude as sort of a very eager junior assistant,” says Daniela. This helpful personality builds on Anthropic’s research applying constitutional AI principles during training to ingrain societal norms.
|Friendly, warm, eager junior assistant
Safe and Helpful, Not Just Scaled Up
Many AI assistants today are essentially scaled up versions of language models like GPT-3. Anthropic takes a different approach, focused on safety and social good. “We spent a fair amount of time kind of fine tuning between a little bit more harmful, a little bit more helpful,” Daniela explains. “Of course, no large language model on the market today is, you know, perfect on any of these dimensions. But I really think one of the things we feel most proud of is that Claude has made progress on honesty, harmlessness, and helpfulness.”
Constitutional AI methods help ingrain human norms, while techniques like reinforcement learning from human feedback provide scalable guardrails. Anthropic’s research pipeline aims to make AI not just capable, but carefully aligned to human values.
Still, Daniela acknowledges tradeoffs between helpfulness and harmlessness will remain. The safest AI may be the least useful. “There’s this kind of inherent research tradeoff between helpfulness and harmlessness,” he notes. “You can imagine that it’s actually very easy to have a perfectly harmless model. It will just not be very helpful.” Claude attempts to strike a principled balance.
|Reinforcement learning from human feedback
|Constitutional AI principles
|Ongoing safety research
Long Documents? Claude’s Got You Covered
With Claude’s 100,000 token context window, easily the largest of any commercial model, it can ingest documents and texts far longer than typical conversational snippets. For professionals analyzing legal briefings, research publications, meeting transcripts or other long materials, this can unlock huge time savings.
“It’s honestly often for what I would describe as kind of important but a little bit banal tasks,” Daniela explains. “If you were trying to read a lot of information and long memos or legal briefings or many, many hours of recorded Zoom meetings…Claude can do that almost instantly and then you can ask it information about that.” Instead of combing through earnings reports, Claude can simply summarize key takeaways.
Anthropic’s team expects further expansion of context window length as natural language processing continues rapid improvement. Daniela believes 512 tokens, roughly a paragraph, will soon seem as quaint as early 1980s computer storage. But for now, Claude’s 100,000 token capacity provides professionals an invaluable reading companion.
The Enterprise Focus
While individuals can already chat with Claude, Anthropic has prioritized enterprise offerings in its first product rollout. The company has invested heavily in “product research” combining its world-class AI researchers with enterprise account managers and customer success teams.
“How do you kind of build this bridge between researchers that are experts in training and improving models, and how do you actually turn that into something for a larger business that’s tailored to their use cases?” asks Daniela. The goal is allowing businesses to generalize Claude’s conversational capabilities to their unique needs, while maintaining Anthropic’s commitment to AI safety.
This focus on research rigor and enterprise alignment has helped Anthropic rapidly scale to over 300 employees. But a lengthy waitlist over 300,000 users long underscores surging demand for Claude’s capabilities and reflective personality. Anthropic aims to judiciously onboard more users without compromising quality of service.
As AI rapidly evolves, it’s unclear what the future competitive landscape will look like. Daniela expects specialization and continued innovation, rather than consolidation around a few providers. But Anthropic feels well positioned, blending cutting edge research with product-market fit and an ethical compass.
“I think that diversity of perspectives that are emerging are really valuable,” says Daniela. “We’ve just never grappled with a question quite like this one before, and I think it would be wrongheaded to say only industry gets to weigh in.”
With Claude’s launch, Anthropic has staked out a personality-driven approach cultivated through research. If responsible AI is to be more than marketing, it will require companies bold enough to study, test and implement safety methods beyond window dressing. Anthropic appears ready for that challenge.