Perplexity will research and write reports – The Verge

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A new feature called Pages will do the searching, writing, and laying out of a report with just a prompt.

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AI search platform Perplexity is launching a new feature called Pages that will generatea customizable webpage based on user prompts. The new feature feels like a one-stop shop for making a school report since Perplexity does the research and writing for you.

Pages taps Perplexity’s AI search models to find information and then creates what I can loosely call a research presentation that can be published and shared with others. In a blog post, Perplexity says it designed Pages to help educators, researchers, and “hobbyists” share their knowledge.

Users type out what their report is about or what they want to know in the prompt box. They can gear the writing more toward beginners, expert readers, or a more general audience. Perplexity searches for information, then begins writing the page by breaking down the information into sections, citing some sources, and then adding visuals. Users can make the page as detailed or concise as they want, and they can also change the images Perplexity uses. However, you can’t edit the text it generates; you have to write another prompt to fix any mistakes.

I tried out Pages ahead of time to see how it works. Pages is not geared toward people like me who already have an avenue to share our knowledge. But it doesn’t seem geared toward researchers or teachers, either. I wanted to see how it can break down complex topics and if it can help with the difficult task of presenting dense information to different audiences.

Among other topics, I asked Perplexity’s Pages to generate a page on the “convergence of quantum computing and artificial intelligence and its impact on society” across the three audience types. The main difference between audiences seems to be the jargon in the written text and the kind of website it takes data from. Each generated report pulls from different sources, including introductory blog posts like this one from IBM. It also cited Wikipedia, which drove the student report vibe home.

A screenshot of the Perplexity Page that talks about quantum AI.

A screenshot of the Perplexity Page that talks about quantum AI.

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The Perplexity-generated page did a passable job of explaining the basics of quantum computing and how AI fits into the technology. But the “research” didn’t go as deep as I could have if I were writing the presentation myself. The more advanced version didn’t even really talk about “the convergence of quantum computing and AI.” It found blog posts talking about quantum inflection points, which is when quantum technologies become more commercially viable and is not at all related to what I asked it to write about.

Then, I asked Pages to write a report about myself, mainly because the information there is easily verifiable. But it only took information from my personal website and an article about me on my high school’s website — not from other public, easily accessible sources like my author page on The Verge. It also sometimes elaborated on things that had nothing to do with me. For example, I began my journalism career during the 2008 financial crisis. Instead of talking about the pieces I wrote about mass layoffs, Perplexity explained the beginnings of the financial crisis.

Pages does the surface-level googling and writing for you, but it isn’t research. Perplexity claims that Pages will help educators develop “comprehensive” study guides for students and researchers to create detailed reports on their findings. I could not upload a research paper for it to summarize, and I couldn’t edit the text it generated, two things I believe users who want to make the most of Pages would appreciate.

I do see one potential user for Pages, and it isn’t one Perplexity called out: students rushing to put out an assignment. Pages may improve in the future. Right now, it’s a way to get easy, possibly correct surface-level information into a presentation that doesn’t really teach anything.

Pages will be available to all Perplexity users, and the company says it’s slowly rolling it out to its free, Pro, and Enterprise users. 

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