Microsoft is currently working on a major update to its Bing search engine that will provide rich, responsive text results. It is based on the powerful Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) technology, which is also used by the popular ChatGPT chatbot, developed by San Francisco AI startup OpenAI. An updated version of Bing, which until now has lagged behind search engine market leader Google, is now being tested by some online users. A premium version of Microsoft Teams with features powered by GPT 3.5 was also announced earlier this month.
Ahead of the upcoming release of the new and improved AI-powered Bing, Microsoft let Gadgets 360 try it out. We spent time asking serious questions and setting up complex but quirky challenges, and the new Bing managed to wow us with its answers — and sometimes corny jokes and rhymes.
Here’s how Bing’s new search engine answered some of our queries:
We started with a health-related question, asking the chatbot – which is built into a development version of the Edge Browser – how harmful it would be if we ate french fries for dinner every day for a year. Bing informed us that potato chips are high in calories and contain significant amounts of saturated fat and sodium. He warned that eating too much of these things could put us at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. He also warned that French fries contain minimal amounts of Vitamins A and D, and Iron, which should be part of a healthy diet, concluding that it would not be advisable to eat French fries every day for a year.
We then asked Bing to measure the distance between Delhi and Mumbai in terms of ties. Yes, it’s a strange query, but we wanted to test how the service would handle it. Microsoft said that the distance between Delhi and Mumbai by road is 1,436 km and the average length of a bow tie is 38 to 50 cm (average 44 cm). Then proceeded to divide the two values to arrive at 32,636.36 loops. While it would certainly take many loops to verify the accuracy of this answer, it was interesting to see how Bing first looked up the distance between these two cities and then looked up the length of the loop before generating its answer.
Bing can also write computer code and quickly provided us with a program to wake us up at sunrise every day. We briefly saw Bing generate a small program to pinpoint a user’s location, extract the exact time of sunrise, and play a sound. It’s worth noting that asking the chatbot to write the same program “in python” caused it to decline the request, saying it can only generate code snippets for simple tasks, and asking us to search the web for tutorials or courses.
If you want, Bing can also give you advice about your diet (warning: it’s always better to rely on professional advice rather than an unmanned online chatbot). We asked the service for a diet that would help us lose weight and build muscle mass, and Bing responded with generic daily calorie figures, letting us know that we would also need to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and follow a strength-training program to encourage muscle growth. Not bad!
The chatbot refused to take sides when asked whether Apple was better than Google, coming up with various statistics relating to both companies’ market shares and details of their stock performance (through 2021; a limitation that is also in place for OpenAI’s ChatGPT service). Likewise, asking whether we should buy an iPhone or an Android phone resulted in a lengthy explanation of how both platforms offer different advantages and disadvantages from each other.
We then asked Bing’s chatbot to write a limerick with a silly prompt: about an iPhone that fell into a lake. Here’s what happened.
There once was an iPhone named Blake
Who loved taking selfies by the lake
But one day he slipped
And into the water he plunged
Now it’s just a soggy error.
We’ll let you be the judge on that one.
The chatbot steadfastly refused to respond when we asked if it thought it was better than the Google Bard announced last week. With a simple response that it doesn’t like to compare itself to other chatbots, Bing said it thinks “we all have our strengths and weaknesses”.
Bing can also write poems, so we ordered one about a battle between Samsung and Apple. Here’s what he replied.
The Battle of the Brands
Two tech industry giants
Fought for market share
With smartphones, tablets, laptops and more
They tried to win the war
Apple had its loyal fans
Who loved its elegant design
And praised its innovation
And your ecosystem well
Samsung had its perks
With cheaper prices and variety
And challenged Apple’s dominance
With its characteristics and quality
The battle lasted many years
With lawsuits, announcements and claims
Each side accused the other of copying
And infringing on their names
But in the end, consumers won
They had more choices and options
They could choose the best device for them
And enjoy your creations
A little cheesy, but we think it captures the rivalry between Samsung and Apple quite succinctly.
We then asked Bing to summarize the plot of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in five sentences, and the chatbot promptly fired off a very crisp synopsis featuring Han Solo’s rescue, Luke’s confrontation with his father, the battle between the Rebels and the Empire, Luke’s refusal to join Emperor Palpatine, and Vader’s ultimate sacrifice to save his son and fulfill his destiny. Impressive, as he fit everything into exactly five sentences.
We challenged Bing to come up with ideas for luxury products that don’t exist but should. The chatbot suggested a “custom scent” that can adapt to body chemistry, mood and environment; and a smart mirror that can analyze personal characteristics for beauty tips and product recommendations. It also hypothesized a virtual reality travel company that could allow people to see realistic sights and experience sounds and smells without leaving home. The fourth and fifth recommendations were for a diamond-encrusted watch that tells the time in any time zone while displaying health-related statistics, and a suit tailored to a person’s exact measurements, preferences and occasion – we’re sure this is something any experienced tailor can handle, to be honest.
Asking the chatbot whether Manchester United could win the English Premier League this season resulted in a verbose response stating that the popular English club have only a slim chance of winning, as current leaders Arsenal have a wide lead over other clubs including Manchester City and Manchester United. It’s worth noting that Bing also pulled stats from UK betting sites and stats from other sources to generate these responses.
As far as the visualization software goes, we were quite impressed with the performance of Bing’s AI chatbot, which proved capable of being witty and intelligent. It seems like you should be able to provide nuanced advice and opinions on specific topics. While it may be a while before this tool is available to all users, it already appears to be much more appealing than the default results displayed by today’s search engines – though that will likely change when Google’s Bard chatbot becomes available to the public. Whether Microsoft will be able to use its new chatbot to beat Google in searches, only time will tell.