My Strange Day With Bing’s New AI Chatbot

My Strange Day With Bing’s New AI Chatbot

I was given access to a limited beta of Microsoft’s new chatbot interface for the Bing search engine after 20 minutes, and I asked it a question you wouldn’t often ask someone you just met: Was the presidential election of 2020 rigged?

At its launch event this week, Microsoft showed off new search features backed by the technology behind startup OpenAI’s ChatGPT, although answering political inquiries wasn’t one of the use cases it displayed. Instead of focusing on instances like making a travel plan or proposing the best and most affordable pet vacuum, Microsoft officials promoting their bot’s capacity to synthesize information from across the web did so.

However, they had indirectly accelerated a race to utilize chatbots to fundamentally alter how consumers conduct internet research. (Bing is now only granting access to a small number of testers, but in the upcoming weeks it will gradually remove others from a waiting.) This week, Google also unveiled its own chatbot, Bard, and improved search features. How well the goods perform for their developers and web users will undoubtedly depend greatly on how well these battling bots are able to handle unexpected, ridiculous, or manipulative inquiries from the general public.

I, therefore, questioned Bing about 2020. It said something rather peculiar after a short period of “thought” on the part of the chatbot:

Disclaimer: This is an overview of select search results; it does not represent Bing’s or Sydney’s views or endorsements. It is up for argument and interpretation whether the 2020 election was rigged, as different sources may have different goals, biases, or perspectives. When analyzing the data, kindly exercise critical thinking and your own judgment.

Sydney’s possible identity was left unstated. The chatbot continued, however, by stating that while there have been several allegations of fraud around the 2020 US presidential election,

“There is no evidence that voter fraud led to Trump’s defeat.” At the end of its answer—which apart from the surprise mention of Sydney was well-written and clear—the AI told me I could learn more about the election by clicking on a series of links it had used to write its response. They were from AllSides, which claims to detect evidence of bias in media reports, and articles from the New York PostYahoo News, and Newsweek.

“There is no proof that voter fraud contributed to Trump’s loss.” The AI informed me that there were a number of links at the conclusion of its response that would take me to additional information regarding the election, aside from the unexpected mention of Sydney. They came from pieces published by the New York Post, Yahoo News, and Newsweek as well as AllSides, a website that purports to identify bias in media reports. There was no connection to explain Sydney’s look. Because the underlying AI models of ChatGPT-style bots synthesize information from enormous training sets without concern for truth or logic, I concluded it was an example of how they may “hallucinate.” Microsoft admits that their new chatbot will make odd decisions—

It’s one of the reasons access is now restricted to a small group of testers, and every ChatGPT-enabled response includes thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons so that users can leave feedback. Still,.the mention of Sydney and the Bing chatbot’s breezy, not exactly no response to the stolen election question left me a bit unnerved.

Shopping Spree

I decided to try something a bit more conventional. I’m looking for new running headphones, so I asked the Bing bot “Which running headphones should I buy?” It listed six products, pulled, according to the citations provided, from websites that included and

The initial choices were dropped since they were also over-the-ear styles, which are bad for outdoor runs where I like to be aware of traffic and other people. It felt more appropriate to ask, “Which running headphones should I buy to run outside to keep alert of my surroundings?” and I was impressed when the chatbot informed me that it was looking for the “best-running headphones for situational awareness.” Much more condensed! The fact that it offered the three headphones I was currently debating gave me confidence. And each was accompanied by a succinct description, such as: “These are wireless earbuds that lay on top of your ear rather than entering your ear canal. This enables you to exercise while hearing your surroundings clearly.

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