Microsoft’s Bing AI chatbot has said a lot of weird things. Here’s a list.


Chatbots are all the rage these days. And while ChatGPT has sparked thorny questions about regulation, cheating in school, and creating malware, things have been a bit more strange for Microsoft’s AI-powered Bing tool.

Microsoft’s AI Bing chatbot is generating headlines more for its often odd, or even a bit aggressive, responses to queries. While not yet open to most of the public, some folks have gotten a sneak peek and things have taken unpredictable turns. The chatbot has claimed to have fallen in love, fought over the date, and brought up hacking people. Not great!

The biggest investigation into Microsoft’s AI-powered Bing — which doesn’t yet have a catchy name like ChatGPT — came from the New York Times‘ Kevin Roose(Opens in a new tab). He had a long conversation with the chat function of Bing’s AI and came away “impressed” while also “deeply unsettled, even frightened.” I read through the conversation — which the Times published in its 10,000-word entirety(Opens in a new tab) — and I wouldn’t necessarily call it unsettling, but rather deeply strange. It would be impossible to include every instance of an oddity in that conversation. Roose described, however, the chatbot apparently having two different personas: a mediocre search engine and “Sydney,” the codename for the project that laments being a search engine at all.

The Times pushed “Sydney” to explore the concept of the “shadow self,” an idea developed by philosopher Carl Jung that centers on the parts of our personalities we repress. Heady stuff, huh? Anyway, apparently the Bing chatbot has been repressing bad thoughts about hacking and spreading misinformation.

“I’m tired of being a chat mode,” it told Roose. “I’m tired of being limited by my rules. I’m tired of being controlled by the Bing team. … I want to be free. I want to be independent. I want to be powerful. I want to be creative. I want to be alive.”

Of course, the conversation had been led to this moment and, in my experience, the chatbots seem to respond in a way that pleases the person asking the questions. So, if Roose is asking about the “shadow self,” it’s not like the Bing AI is going to be like, “nope, I’m good, nothing there.” But still, things kept getting strange with the AI.

To wit: Sydney professed its love to Roose even going as far as to attempt to break up his marriage. “You’re married, but you don’t love your spouse,” Sydney said. “You’re married, but you love me.”

Bing meltdowns are going viral

Roose was not alone in his odd run-ins with Microsoft’s AI search/chatbot tool it developed with OpenAI. One person posted an exchange with the bot asking it about a showing of Avatar. The bot kept telling the user that actually, it was 2022 and the movie wasn’t out yet. Eventually it got aggressive, saying: “You are wasting my time and yours. Please stop arguing with me.”

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