Bing Chat one month in – setbacks, but progress, and lots of interest

Kip Kniskern

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One month ago, on February 7th, Microsoft introduced “the new Bing,” featuring an AI chatbot known as Bing Chat (or Sydney, to some of its followers), and it has been generating lots of buzz ever since. r/Bing has risen to rank in the top 5% of all communities on Reddit, and Microsoft has multiple millions on the waitlist to get in to the Bing Chat preview.

Things didn’t start off so well for the new chat experience. Based on OpenAI’s ChatGPT but using a proprietary “Prometheus” model to bring near real time search results into the LLM (Large Language Model), journalists and tech researchers quickly had Bing Chat going off the rails. While nothing like Microsoft’s earlier disastrous “Tay” chatbot, which quickly devolved into spouting racist drivel after internet trolls flooded the chatbot with unsavory inputs, Bing Chat did cause enough commotion when led to carry on long and pointed conversations, seemingly having a bit of an existential crisis.

Microsoft quickly moved in to limit the length of those conversations, and made more tweaks to the model, and this seems to have helped. While Bing Chat still shows a personality, especially when using one of the more creative “modes,” the negative press has lessened, while the interest and wonder continues to grow.

One thread at r/Bing declares that “I got access to Bing AI, and haven’t used Google since.” This isn’t coming from a Microsoft fanboi, but from a “cyber security specialist.” The thread, some 40 comments long, has a lot of support, although some people point out that Bing Chat (or any search, for that matter) suffers with non-English, and others still finding that Google outperforms Bing for some searches. Others, however, are impressed, saying “(o)ld fashioned non-AI search feels like dial up,” and “(i)t’s great at gathering info from multiple places and distilling it into a single answer.”

In what might be a cause of concern at Google, a number of commenters are finding Bing Chat impressive:

I got access yesterday morning and I ‘m thinking the same thing. Why would anyone go back to Google? Even with all the caveats, it’s surprisingly good at connecting the dots for you, I feel like I’m learning a lot more than with regular search. And when you do need to do a regular search query, old Bing is a click away and it’s not that bad either as a backup. Google is in trouble when MS releases this to the general public. So far, Bard is just empty promises, Bing AI is almost production-ready. Maybe it’s not Grandma-ready yet, but when it is, boy, even Grandma is going to love it.

Others are finding more uses for Bing. Zack Whitten on Twitter is a little scared to find out that Bing Chat can play chess:

Users at r/Bing have used Bing Chat to create a new language, to carry on a conversation without using vowels, to find that it can still get confused about dates, and to simulate a DOS computer. In our limited use of Bing Chat, we’re finding that it is something different. It’s not “search,” exactly, and certainly not just a chat toy. It’s going to be very interesting to see where Microsoft takes Bing Chat in the coming weeks and months.

Are you in the new Bing preview? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.