I asked Microsoft's new Bing with ChatGPT about Microsoft and oh, it had opinions

Everyone's talking about it. But what does Microsoft's new AI-driven Bing think about Microsoft? Step this way.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
Microsoft Bing and Open AI logos

Openly controversial. 

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It hadn't been easy.

I'd applied to use Microsoft's new AI-driven, GPT-powered, infinitely-hyped new Bing, and the company emitted a sordid tease

First, it put me on the waiting list. 

Also: The new Bing waitlist is long. Here's how to get earlier access

Then it said it might move me up if I made Microsoft my all-encompassing PC default.

I demurred, with more than one snort and huff. 

Moreover, many readers seemed to agree this was typical Microsoft bullying tactics.

Also: The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT and other fun alternatives to try

Take me to the Chearch

I sat quietly. Then, a magical email appeared. I was now to be allowed into Bing's celestial portals, there to bathe in the new glories of Chat-search.

Or perhaps it should be called Chearch.

Also: 6 things ChatGPT can't do (and another 20 it refuses to do)

Confronted with this new presence, I wondered what to ask. I asked whether American Airlines is in trouble. I don't know why. Do you know why your mind does things?

New Bing replied with a stream of information. Lines and lines of it. This, though, was its conclusion: "American Airlines is in trouble in many ways and it may take a long time and a lot of effort for it to recover and regain its reputation and profitability."

Goodness, this new Bing sits on no fences. It comes right out there with, wait, are those opinions?

In the spirit of pulsating objectivity, I asked the same question about United Airlines and got a completely different response.

Bing said the airline has "glaring problems," but then concluded: "For a more balanced and comprehensive view of the airline, you may want to consult other sources of information, such as official reports, customer reviews, or industry analysis." Or Google?

Also: ChatGPT or Google: Which gives the best answers?

Gosh, though, I could chat to this thing all day. The whole process is utterly mesmerizing. You enter your question and observe a stream of answers. It's like a vomitorium of refences in an academic paper. But, sometimes at least, with a pithy, hearty conclusion attached.

Hey, Bing. Tell me about your parents

What could I do, then, but ask the new Bing about Microsoft?

It prides itself on answering complex questions -- Bing, not Microsoft -- so I went for this one: "Has Microsoft launched the new Bing well?"

Bing gave me lots of information about Bing, without offering an opinion. 

However, when I asked: "Has Microsoft made a mess of Bing?" the rebuttal flowed.

"I don't think Microsoft has made a mess of Bing. The new Bing is a revolutionary product that uses advanced AI technology to deliver better search, more complete answers, a new chat experience, and the ability to create and share content with others. The new Bing is also integrated with the new Edge browser, which offers many features and benefits for users. However, like any new product, the new Bing may have some issues and errors at launch, such as generating false information on products, places, and financial documents."

Some issues and errors? Oh, OK. I'll look out for those. Perhaps my accountant will too.

I asked another innocuous question about Microsoft: "Is Microsoft a great company to work for?"

How did Bing's response begin? Why, like this: "According to one report, Microsoft is the world's best company to work for, based on the anonymous feedback of current employees at over 70,000 businesses. The report praised Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella for his vision and global strategy, and the company's culture, diversity, and compensation. Another source also ranked Microsoft as one of the best places to work in 2020, based on Glassdoor ratings."

Also: Soon you can choose ChatGPT's 'values' and it's going to get messy

Please, I'm not suggesting any bias here. I'm just truly fascinated by the answer. After eight lines of fulsome praise for its parent, Bing offered this one line: "However, some employees also mentioned some challenges, such as work-life balance, stress, and politics."

This was undoubtedly fun. It was also undoubtedly frightening to think of a future in which a machine didn't merely offer information, but sometimes strong views.

I asked Bing another question that felt pertinent in the moment: "Does Microsoft want to crush Google?"

I got this in reply: "Whether Microsoft wants to crush Google is a strong and vague statement that may not reflect the reality or the intention of the company. Microsoft may want to challenge, surpass, or collaborate with Google in some areas, but not necessarily crush it in every aspect."

The nuances here were joyous. I adored "but not necessarily crush it in every aspect." Not necessarily.

Marketing? Or MarketBing?

I was still somewhat peeved by Microsoft's less than charming approach to launching new Bing.

So I asked new Bing itself whether marketing should be charming. Bing declared this was "an interesting question." Ah, dear machine, I'm glad I've elevated the conversation.

But Bing went on to muse: "Show your audience that you care about their needs, preferences, and feedback." As well as: "Be genuine and humble throughout all of your marketing."

Perhaps Microsoft could learn from Bing.

Instead of trying to tease people into making Microsoft their PC-default, it might have tried: "We're really excited about the new Bing, but we can't offer it to everyone at once. (Hey, every new thing has some kinks to work out, right?) So we're giving first dibs to everyone who has Microsoft set as their default on their PC. We know that might be frustrating for some of you -- and we're not trying to force you to have Microsoft as your default (honest) -- but we have to start somewhere. And we really want to make sure everything is working perfectly. So please bear with us."

I asked another specific question about Microsoft's marketing of Bing: Is Bing marketing a mess?

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While offering lots of facts first, the new Bing offered: "Microsoft's Bing marketing is very bad in some aspects, but it also has some strengths and opportunities to improve and compete in the search engine market."

Well, I never.

I went to Chearch and it was unquestionably riveting but more in the sense of entertainment than anything else. If you ask the new Bing (vaguely) complex questions, you get the answers of a teenager who reads a lot and hasn't lived much.

This may, indeed, be the way of the future. I'm grateful to have seen it. And Microsoft itself admits this is a work in progress.

Still, I worry about progress. I always have.

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