It looks like adding the ChatGPT AI chatbot to Bing’s search engine was both a stroke of genius and a bit of a disaster for Microsoft, but in the rush to fix things, could it make things worse?
In a story arc that would have prompted Mary Shelley to call her lawyers to discuss copyright infringement, Microsoft drew the world’s attention by unveiling an updated Bing that had a new ChatGPT-powered brain. This allowed users to ask more complex questions, and Bing responded in a human-like way, drawing on ChatGPT’s massive language models as well as information on the web.
The potential was huge and eventually people started talking about Bing, years later, well, nobody was talking about it. However, when people started using the new Bing, some rather strange – and disturbing – quirks started to appear, with Bing giving incorrect answers to questions, giving disturbing answers that indicated some kind of existential crisis, and even getting angry and aggressive towards users .
Suddenly, all that positive exposure was starting to go a bit sour – prompting Microsoft to hastily take a scalpel to Bing and lobotomy him. Topics were banned and the number of replies he could give was reduced to keep conversations with Bing from falling into quirkiness.
The problem was that by removing the weirdness, Microsoft made Bing boring again.
After Microsoft drastically reduced the AI of the new Bing, people started complaining online. It seemed that Bing was now trying to avoid discussing any controversial issues and was calling time for an interview after only five responses.
Microsoft has been a bit too brutal when it comes to restricting Bing, and it looks like the company now wants to revert some of those changes. How CNET reports (opens in a new tab)a new Microsoft blog post acknowledges that “since the introduction of chat limits, we’ve received feedback from many of you wanting longer chats to return so you can both search more efficiently and interact better with the chat feature.”
The company is looking at ways to “responsibly” bring back longer chats and is increasing the number of responses to six. Users can now conduct a total of 60 chats per day with Bing, an increase from the 50 that were imposed last week. According to Microsoft (opens in a new tab)“Our data shows that for the vast majority of you, this will allow you to use Bing naturally on a daily basis” and that this will eventually increase to 100 chats per day.
All that hacking and changing isn’t a great look for Microsoft, though. The inclusion of ChatGPT was supposed to be a major relaunch for the thrashing search engine Bing, which had failed to challenge Google’s dominance, and right after the reveal, it seemed that Bing’s time in the spotlight had finally arrived. However, these early glitches were not only embarrassing to Microsoft, but also highlighted the dangers of revealing new technology too early.
As I mentioned before, first impressions count, and for many people this was their first time using Bing or ChatGPT – so if the experience was poor, they probably wouldn’t try again.
Microsoft’s subsequent removal of features, then adding some back, and drastic cutbacks to Bing’s capabilities mean no one is really sure what Bing is up to Is at this point. It seems that Microsoft may not have fully understood what it is creating, and this work took on a life of its own and turned into a monster. In their rush to regain control of it, the company may have inadvertently killed its creator in the process.