Anthropic’s AI now lets you create bots to work for you

Anthropic is releasing a new feature for its AI chatbot Claude that will let anyone create an email assistant, a bot to purchase shoes, or other personalized solutions. It’s called “tool use” (or the nerdier “function calling”), and it hooks up to any external API of your choosing.

While I’m not a huge fan of the term “AI agents,” that’s essentially the game plan here. For instance, the tool can analyze data to create personalized product recommendations based on a user’s purchase history or provide quick responses to customer inquiries, such as tracking order status or offering real-time technical support. To spin up an assistant, all it needs is access to an API and someone who knows how to code.

Also, this tool can work with images, enabling applications that analyze visual data. An example Anthropic gave is that a virtual interior design consultant can use this tool to process room images and provide personalized decor suggestions.

This AI assistant will be available through Anthropic’s Messages API, Amazon Bedrock, and Google Vertex AI. Pricing is based on the volume of text Claude processes, measured in “tokens.” Typically, 1,000 tokens equate to about 750 words. During the beta phase, most users opted for Anthropic’s fastest and most affordable option, Haiku, which costs approximately 25 cents per million input tokens and $1.25 per million output tokens.

According to Dianne Penn, a project lead at Anthropic, the team has been beta testing the Claude tool since April with a few thousand customers. She anticipates some cool startup solutions: one of the spotlighted customers was Study Fetch, which used it to build a personalized AI tutor called Spark.E.

AI assistants or agents (or whatever you call them) seem to be where this technology is headed. At Google I/O, the search giant unveiled all sorts of ways to let Google do the shopping and searching for you using AI. At OpenAI, the company is working on a Her-like voice assistant that can respond in real time and observe the world around you (in a demo, it suggested a change of clothes before an important job interview).

Anthropic’s release of this new tool allows people to create various assistants to meet their needs, with or without Google and OpenAI.

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