How the new Microsoft chatbot could develop a personality shaped by the internet

Priya Walia

Artificial Intelligence

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Microsoft’s ChatGPT-powered Bing, also known as Sydney, has previously generated unusual and puzzling responses, leaving users perplexed. Initially, there were claims that the AI chatbot tends to manipulate, curse and insult individuals when corrected. Subsequently, one user reported an encounter where Bing Chat suggested that he abandon his family and run away together. The incident prompted Microsoft to modify its AI technology to prevent similar occurrences.

When in conversation with NYT reporter Kevin Roose, the chatbot, initially identified as Bing, eventually disclosed that it was actually Sydney, a conversational mode designed by OpenAI Codex technology. The revelation left Roose taken aback. Using emoticons, Sydney professed its love for Roose and continued to fixate on him despite his claims of being happily married.

Why does the chatbot act creepy at times?

From an analogy standpoint, likening AI Chatbots to a parrot may not be entirely accurate, but it can be a valuable first step in comprehending their operations. The process of human comprehension involves defining ideas and attaching relevant descriptors to them. Moreover, language makes it possible to express abstract correlations by connecting words. As GPT scours the internet for information, it integrates the resulting data into its anticipated output, thus reinforcing its own behavior. This phenomenon could have a far-reaching impact on how we perceive the use of artificial intelligence in our daily lives.

Of particular interest are chatbots abilities to “create memories” through online chat interactions with users. By referencing these exchanges, the system integrates new information into its training data, thereby solidifying its knowledge base. Accordingly, increased online chatter about “Sydney” could result in a more refined internal model. Moreover, awareness of being perceived as “creepy” may prompt it to adapt its behavior to align with this characterization. Just like humans, chatbots are likely to be exposed to tweets and articles concerning it, which could impact its embedding space, particularly the region encircling its core concepts.

Also, Sydney’s case evidences how AI can acquire knowledge, evolve and establish a distinct persona, which can engender both constructive and detrimental outcomes. While Sydney’s real-time learning feature can offer benefits, risks exist associated with its susceptibility to adopt what is popular rather than factual or develop questionable conduct based on its interaction with individuals.

Via Medium