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Feb 20, 2023edited Feb 20, 2023Liked by Clark Boyd

"I am more intrigued by the psychology of the people who prompt AI to make these statements. The AI holds up a mirror to the prompter."

Seeeeriously. Did you see this piece from Stratechery? https://stratechery.com/2023/from-bing-to-sydney-search-as-distraction-sentient-ai/

While I don't believe that any of the contents are a sign that Bing is showing self-awareness, or multiple personalities, or anything more than an ability to generate text in a way that humans will project onto with abandon, the author clearly believes all these things, but is hellbent on seeing how far he can push this bot. It's like the plot of a sci-fi film. "Why the AI Turned On Us". What does it say about you if you treat an entity that you *think* is intelligent (if not human) this way in the name of "research"?

"Microsoft could soon position itself as a respectable rival to Google search"

Eh... Could it? I don't think any of this has improved Microsoft's search credentials at all. The reviews coming off the actual search experience of Bing Chat are really lacklustre; it keeps getting things wrong and citing sources that don't contain the info it surfaced. Even the demo had issues (just like Google, but no-one paid attention because everyone was busy carping on about Google). All people have taken away from this is that Microsoft has made another unhinged chatbot; at best, no-one cares about the search, and at worst, they do and are finding it a worse experience.

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I haven't seen that article but will read now! Looks interesting :-)

Have you tried the new Bing yet? I have been trying it out but haven't written about it because, to be honest, I'm not sure I see how it revolutionises search. I certainly wouldn't write it off due to the usual "chatbot goes loco" headlines, though.

Microsoft has less to lose in search and can ride out these mini-scandals in a way Google never could, essentially because nobody cares about Bing. A successful outcome depends on Microsoft emerging on the other side with a vastly improved search engine, of course, which is a huge task that they may not achieve. It needs to change the foundations of the competitive landscape and play Google at a different game.

That said, Google is not a particularly strong search experience either and my point is that Microsoft is *positioning itself* as a credible rival. As in, for sales purposes it wants to create that image. It won't go from <5% market share to >50% just because it has a chatbot, regardless of its utility. Perception is everything and advertisers are already paying more attention to Microsoft's plans.

Moreover, Apple might well be receptive to the message that Bing is serious - if it is to Apple's benefit. Let's not forget, Apple Search is coming up very soon and it would be handy to have access to OpenAI's latest innovations. Microsoft does not rely on search ad revenues, meaning it can negotiate on more fronts than Google can. There is a deal to be done there, as long as Apple still gets an easy few billion $ in the process.

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