Elicit has raised $9m in seed funding for its AI research paper analyzer which aims to accelerate academic research. Elicit is a for-profit spinoff of the non-profit research organization Ought.
If you’ve made your way to the references section at the bottom of a research paper you have some idea of the amount of reading required before the writing can start. But even finding those sources can be incredibly time-consuming and expensive.
Elicit uses language models and machine learning to extract data and summarize information from Semantic Scholar’s database of over 200 million research papers.
Semantic Scholar already uses AI to help researchers find relevant papers that are semantically similar to what they’re looking for, but Elicit takes it a step further.
Elicit streamlines the research process by finding relevant papers, extracting key information, and organizing the information into concepts. A researcher can pose a question and Elicit will return abstracts from papers that answer the question.
6/ You’ll still get the Elicit you know and love in the “Find papers” workflow! pic.twitter.com/wo8aaZwBUK
— Elicit (@elicitorg) September 25, 2023
On the face of it, this is just a clever AI tool for extracting info from a narrow dataset. However, the impact this could have on accelerating academic research across fields is significant.
If Elicit can save researchers an average of 5 hours a week as it claims, then it could potentially make important discoveries happen sooner.
The impact could even be bigger than the simple time-saving aspect. Freeing up a researcher’s mind so they can focus on analysis and creative thinking instead of tedious data parsing will be a big driver of research efficiencies.
There are some big names behind this project that see the potential too. Google AI’s chief scientist Jeff Dean, GitHub co-founder Tom Preston-Werner, and Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi are some of the angel investors behind the first round of funding.
The company hopes that the funding and paid services model on its platform will help it further develop AI research assistance tools.
This is a great example of AI taking a boring job from someone who really doesn’t want to do it in the first place. Removing drudgery and the mundane from our workdays will be one of the biggest AI multipliers of human ingenuity.