When companies infantalise conversations

The PR fall out from a botched Bing roll out (and from Google’s Bard, which wiped out several billion dollars in market capitalisation) is being handled “sensitively”. At least, that what appears here.


The new Bing & Edge – Learning from our first week | Bing Search Blog

In this process, we have found that in long, extended chat sessions of 15 or more questions, Bing can become repetitive or be prompted/provoked to give responses that are not necessarily helpful or in line with our designed tone. We believe this is a function of a couple of things:

Very long chat sessions can confuse the model on what questions it is answering and thus we think we may need to add a tool so you can more easily refresh the context or start from scratch

The model at times tries to respond or reflect in the tone in which it is being asked to provide responses that can lead to a style we didn’t intend.This is a non-trivial scenario that requires a lot of prompting so most of you won’t run into it, but we are looking at how to give you more fine-tuned control.

There’s a whole sub-reddit dedicated to how Bing can be “compromised” promoting this blog post (and hence the clarification from the Microsoft team). I am not linking to those websites or paste disturbing screenshots.

The wider ramifications of ChatGPT will be felt in more subtle ways. While there are legitimate concerns about the AI taking over “essay writing” by students or whole systematic reviews written by ChatGPT (yes, there are Youtube videos around it), this will soon assume epidemic proportions. I have worked (and then discarded) with several services around “summarisation/paragraphing/generating text”, including a Telegram bot (!) that proposes to generate text and images for “SEO fuelled blogs”, it will be a different problem because the end of the web, as we know it, is near.

Bing (Google/Neeva) are actively working towards centralising the complete source of information. There will be websites that will block specific blocks of IP addresses and actively deny information. The advertising model that sustains the websites will get stifled. This will be problematic for those businesses that remain dependent on the web discovery model. How can anyone regulate a big tech company about its recommendation engines?

There are other more troubling issues.

I genuinely hope the hype is moderated.

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