Microsoft’s Bing Chat has begun rolling out options to allow users to make chat responses creative, balanced, or more accurate. Just be careful: adopting the “creative” option at the beginning will make the Bing AI chatbot less accurate, in the name of more entertaining answers.
Microsoft started rolling out new Bing Chat response options late last week. (This reporter does not yet have access to them on his personal account.) Mike Davidson, corporate vice president of Design and Research at Microsoft shared a screenshot:
Microsoft is trying to balance what it apparently sees as Bing’s primary function: a “copilot for the web.” It is not yet clear what exactly this means, but, at the beginning, it seems that Microsoft intended Bing Chat as a tool to supplement its traditional search engine: summarizing the results taken from different sites , to save users the need to dig for results themselves. Some of the more creative elements, such as the ability to tell stories and write poetry, are apparently seen as bonuses.
Perhaps unfortunately for Microsoft, these creative elements are used by users, who build what the rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT allows. When reporters and testers began to push the limits of what Bing could do, they led to some strange results, such as threats and strange questions about relationships. In response, Microsoft heavily restricted, limited responses and essentially blocked Bing’s more entertaining responses.
Microsoft is apparently trying to unleash Bing’s more creative impulses with additional controls. But apparently there is a cost to doing so, based on my own questions to Davidson. Large language models sometimes “hallucinate” (create) false facts, which many journalists have noticed when closely questioning ChatGPT and other chatbots. (This is probably one of the reasons Bing Chat cites its sources via footnotes.)
I asked Davidson if creative or precise methods affect reality ACCURACY of answers, or if Bing adopts a more creative or authentic one TONE instead.
Davidson’s point is that if you opt for a more creative answer, you run the risk of inventing information on Bing. On the other hand, the “creative” toggle is probably designed for more creative output, where absolute precision not a priority.
Just to be sure, I asked for an explanation. Davidson goes on to say that if users want a perfectly accurate answer, it comes at the cost of creativity. Eliminating creative responses based on inaccuracy defeats the purpose. However, eventually, that may change.
Microsoft, then, is making a choice—and you should make one, too. If you want to use Bing Chat in its role as a search assistant, select the “correct” option. If you value more creativity and don’t really care if the topics Bing brings up are accurate, choose the “creative” option. Maybe someday the two will meet.