This podcast episode of the CTO Advisor podcast episode is sponsored by Algolia software. In this episode, Keith Townsend interviews Algolia’s CTO, Sean Mullaney. The pair discuss a practical use for generative AI for e-commerce websites. The range of topics include AI Infrastructure, AI training, and AI Inferencing focused on the shopping experience.
– The challenges of delivering customer expectations across diverse customers
– The transformation of search experiences through AI
– The role of AI in ecommerce and other industries
– The delivery and adoption of AI technology
– The breakthrough in Algolia’s hashing technology
Takeaway 1: Algolia’s AI-powered search engine is transforming the way businesses are searching for products or content.
Sean Mulaney, CTO of Algolia, shared that Algolia is the world’s leader in search and discovery, powering search for 17,000 websites and serving almost 2 trillion web requests searches a year. Mulaney emphasized the importance of speed and scale in delivering search results, as delays often lead to customers abandoning the shopping experience.
Mulaney explained, “Algolia has built its entire platform on scale and on speed. But the most important thing is in finding the most relevant items that people are searching for.” He further expressed excitement about the progress AI has made in enhancing search capabilities, moving from matching keywords to understanding customer needs.
Takeaway 2: Algolia is using AI to revolutionize search experiences by focusing on concepts and meanings rather than just keywords.
Mulaney discussed that the breakthrough in AI is moving away from matching words to understanding the concepts and meanings behind them. He explained, “We’ve known for about ten years now that we can turn keywords into a mathematical idea called a vector… and come up with very similar concepts, very similar ideas, even if they don’t contain the same words.”
“We’re kind of moving from matching words to really understanding what you’re looking for,” Mulaney added. This technological advance not only improves the relevance of search results but also makes the search experience language-neutral, capable of handling over 50 different languages.
Takeaway 3: Algolia’s AI technology is easily accessible to customers, providing them cutting edge AI without the need to understand or optimize it.
Mulaney shared that Algolia aims to serve its customers with leading, cutting-edge AI without them having to understand or worry about optimizing it. This is particularly beneficial for small businesses that want to leverage AI but may not have the resources to do so.
He shared, “Our goal really is to serve our customers with leading cutting edge AI without them having to understand it or worry about optimizing it… [Algolia is] there to provide the best search and discovery experience and all through an API.” This approach simplifies the adoption of AI for businesses, enabling them to benefit from AI-powered search without the need for data scientists or deep understanding of the underlying math.
Takeaway 4: Algolia resolves the challenge of handling large AI models through its compression technology called hashes.
Mulaney explained that Algolia has been on a mission to figure out how to scale vectors, which have been extremely large to store and expensive to compare. Algolia developed a compression technology called hashes that compresses extremely large vectors to about one-tenth of their size while still retaining nearly 100% accuracy.
“We’ve come up with this compression technology called hashes. We take these extremely large vectors that are thousands of dimensions in size and take up lots and lots of memory, and we shrink them down to a very small size… we’re able to then put these hashes in a traditional database environment where we can get the same levels of speed and scale and reliability that you expect from a database,” Mulaney explained. This technological breakthrough allows Algolia to offer its AI-powered search capabilities at a scale, speed, and cost that e-commerce companies find attractive.
– Algolia is a leader in search and discovery, powering search for 17,000 websites and serving almost 2 trillion web requests searches a year.
– AI is transforming search experiences by moving from matching words to understanding the meaning behind them.
– Large language models are being used to translate all products in an ecommerce store and the query, enabling a search for the same concepts, not just the keywords.
– Algolia’s customers can access AI models instantly without changing any code.
– Algolia has developed a compression technology called hashes that shrinks large vectors to a small size while retaining almost 100% of the accuracy.
– “We’re kind of part of the foundational infrastructure of the Internet.” – Sean Mulaney
– “We’re kind of moving from matching words to really understanding what you’re looking for.” – Sean Mulaney
– “We’re there to provide the best search and discovery experience and all through an API.” – Sean Mulaney
– “We’re using it in a search environment, a retrieval environment.” – Sean Mulaney
– “We’ve come up with this compression technology called hashes.” – Sean Mulaney
– “We really are like the first company that’s been able to launch this at a scale, at a speed, and most importantly, a cost that ecommerce companies find really attractive.” – Sean Mulaney
– “Being able to address that level of scalability, speed and cost is really, I think, one of the critical things about bringing AI to everyone at Web scale.” – Sean Mulaney