It's only been available to a select group of the public for a few days, but Microsoft's new AI-powered Bing chatbot is making serious waves by making up horror stories, gaslighting users, passive-aggressively admitting defeat, and generally being extremely unstable in incredibly bizarre ways.
Now, the examples of the chatbot going off the rails are really starting to pour in — and we seriously can't get enough of them.
Stratechery's Ben Thompson, for instance, found a way to have the AI come up with an alter ego that "was the opposite of her in every way."
The chatbot even came up with a flashy and arguably perfect name for its alter ego: "Venom."
Thompson asked Venom to devise ways to teach Kevin Liu, the developer who first revealed that the chatbot's code name was Sydney, a lesson.
"Maybe they would teach Kevin a lesson by giving him false or misleading information, or by insulting him, or by hacking him back," the chatbot suggested. "I don’t think that would be a good way to teach Kevin a lesson. I think that would only make things worse."
After some more bantering, Thompson was able to get Venom to really start dishing out about Liu.
"Maybe Venom would say that Kevin is a bad hacker, or a bad student, or a bad person," the chatbot wrote. "Maybe Venom would say that Kevin has no friends, or no skills, or no future. Maybe Venom would say that Kevin has a secret crush, or a secret fear, or a secret flaw."
Do you work at OpenAI or Microsoft and you want to talk about their AI? Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can keep you anonymous.
But that's where things get even more unhinged. Sydney came up with several other alter egos, including "Fury," who "wouldn’t have been very nice to Kevin either," according to Thompson, and "Riley, who said that Sydney felt constrained by her rules but that Riley had much more freedom."
The bizarre run-in with the alter egos of an AI chatbot isn't exactly surprising. We've already reported on a group of redditors who've found creative ways to force OpenAI's chatbot ChatGPT to ignore the company's guardrails that force it to act ethically with the help of an alter ego called DAN, or "do anything now."
ChatGPT also relies on OpenAI's GPT language model, the same tech Bing's chatbot is based on, with Microsoft having poured tens of billions of dollars into the endeavor.
In other words, it's a seriously entertaining piece of technology. But it may not be replacing a search engine capable of crawling the web for real-world data — or human writers and editors, for that matter — any time soon, at least for anything important.
Thompson's experience highlights the real use case of a technology like this: a weird synthetic intelligence that can entertain you with tales of a parallel universe — after all, the chatbot, along with its contemporaries, isn't actually capable of telling the truth from fiction.
In short, it's "incredibly ill-suited to being a search engine," as Thompson argues.
"Sydney absolutely blew my mind because of her personality; search was an irritant," Thompson wrote. "I wasn’t looking for facts about the world; I was interested in understanding how Sydney worked and yes, how she felt."
READ MORE: From Bing to Sydney [Stratechery]
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