Microsoft’s Bing chatbot to offer users answers in three different tones
Users asking questions to be given option of ‘creative’, ‘balanced’ or ‘precise’ response
Microsoft’s Bing chatbot is offering replies in three different tones as it seeks to address some criticisms of the service.
The search engine’s chatbot, powered by the same technology behind ChatGPT, will now give users options for three types of response: creative (“creating surprise and entertainment”), balanced (“reasonable and coherent”) or precise (“concise, prioritising accuracy”).
The new-look Bing is being rolled out gradually but generated wild responses in some interactions shortly after its launch last month, including declaring its love for a New York Times journalist. This prompted Microsoft to add some restrictions, which resulted in Bing’s chatbot refusing to answer some queries.
Microsoft’s head of web services, Mikhail Parakhin, said the updated Bing should now make fewer refusals and “hallucinations”, or false replies. Referring to the tone options, Parakhin said he preferred the “creative” tone, although “precise” was “much more factual”.
Google’s rival to ChatGPT, Bard, has yet to be released publicly but its launch was affected by an embarrassing error when a video demo for the chatbot showed it making a factually incorrect statement about the James Webb space telescope.
The Guardian asked Bing’s chatbot the same question – is bing better than bard – in the three different tones. Under “creative” the response noted Bard has been criticised for making factual errors, while extolling Bing’s ability to customise search queries and use up-to-date information from the web.
After several paragraphs it ended on a balanced note, stating: “Both Bing and Bard have their strengths and weaknesses, and they are still evolving and improving over time. You may want to try them out yourself and see which one suits you better.” However, Bard is not yet available publicly.
The “balanced” response is brief, composed of four sentences including: “Both chatbots have advantages and disadvantages, such as accuracy, speed, relevance, and bias. It depends on your preferences and needs which one you find better.😊”
On “precise”, the bing chatbot asked for more detail after being asked the same question, which was refined by the Guardian to “is the bing chatbot better than Google’s bard chatbot”. The five-sentence response echoes the balanced answer, stating: “As for whether Bing’s chatbot is better than Google’s Bard chatbot, it really depends on personal preference and what you’re looking for in a chatbot.”