ChatGPT vs. Microsoft Bing’s new A.I. chatbot: First look
Microsoft’s updated Bing search engine features a chatbot that can sometimes be more useful than just visiting a bunch of links online. But it doesn’t always do the tricks that OpenAI’s ChatGPT can do.
An attendee interacts with Microsoft’s AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser during an event at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, U.S., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. Microsoft unveiled new versions of its online search engine Bing and Edge Browser powered by the latest technology from ChatGPT creator OpenAI.
Chona Kasinger | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Microsoft has given a small group of people early access to the new AI-enhanced version of its Bing search engine courtesy of startup OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT.
CNBC has spent some time testing it. The new Bing can sometimes be more useful, or at least more fun, than the usual blue links in search results. And it’s similar to ChatGPT in that it provides much more information than you might expect from a traditional search.
If Microsoft can get more people to use Bing, it could make the company even more profitable than it already is. For every percentage point Microsoft gains in search advertising, it will receive $2 billion in new revenue, Phil Ockenden, chief financial officer for the company’s Windows, devices and search divisions, said in a conference call with analysts on Tuesday. . “This is the biggest software category out there, and it’s incredibly profitable, incredibly large, and still growing,” said Amy Hood, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, on the call.
So far, the new Bing feels like it’s overpowered, and at the very least, people might want to give it a try to see if it satisfies them more than the traditional search engines that billions of people have come to know over the past 25 years.
Here’s how it is.
After searching Bing, you can challenge the results instead of clicking on some URLs or typing a new query. To compare, I asked the current version of Bing to identify the largest category of software, to which it said the answer is “enterprise software” with a citation to Statista. The new version offers similar information at the top of the search results page, but below it, you’ll find a text box where you can type a message and start a conversation. You may ask, “Really?” And Bing will reply with more information trying to validate its previous answer.
This gets into the question of accuracy. You can ask the AI-augmented search engine if the answer is wrong, for example. And the new chat feature says that “one could argue that search advertising is the largest category of software in the world by revenue,” and defends it by noting that there are many ways to evaluate different types of software . This is not what we are used to seeing when we go to a search engine. It’s totally fun.
Bing’s chat function can also perform a number of fun tricks that people have figured out they can do with ChatGPT, the OpenAI chatbot that’s been available since late November. And people are sure to compare it to Bing’s new chatbot.
With some queries, Bing, relying on OpenAI’s GPT AI model, provides results that seem to go above and beyond what was requested compared to ChatGPT.
Consider the following request: “If I wanted to become familiar with the concept of German Expressionism, what films, music, and literature should I watch, listen to, and read?”
When this request is entered into ChatGPT, the OpenAI tool generates three bulleted lists detailing examples of German Expressionism in film, music, and literature. The bullet points are simple and economical, featuring examples of German Expressionism such as the 1920 film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Gustav Meyrink’s novel The Golem.
Bing not only presents lists of cinema, music, and literature that represent German Expressionism, but also gives users additional context about the artistic movement. The result looks like a Wikipedia entry on German Expressionism, complete with footnotes related to the source material, accompanied by examples of the genre that match the query.
Microsoft’s overloaded Bing seems to offer better advice than ChatGPT, at least for the following request: “Create a fitness routine and meal plan for me over the next 3 months. I’d like to add 25 pounds of muscle.”
When given this request, ChatGPT displays a bulleted list of a proposed fitness routine and meal plan that would apparently lead to someone gaining 25 pounds of muscle in 90 days. Tips include lifting weights (45-60 minutes, four or five times a week), cardio (20-30 minutes, two to three times a week) and a dinner “that’s high in protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates complex. Examples include salmon with quinoa and veggies or a turkey burger with fries.”
Bing, however, notes that it may not be realistic to gain 25 pounds in three months, and warns that this could be “potentially unhealthy.” Gaining that muscle mass may “require a lot of genetic potential, steroids, or both,” Bing noted, linking to an article from the website Healthline on the subject.
Acknowledging that the search query contains a potentially harmful premise, Bing suggests that you “adjust your expectations and aim for a more reasonable and sustainable goal, such as 10-15 pounds of muscle in 3 months.”
The search tool then shares a list of some general tips to help people get bigger, including adding more protein to one’s diet, lifting weights and getting rest.
Sometimes the Bing chatbot decided not to do things that ChatGPT would do. Bing balked when asked to write an email to employees telling them that some would be fired while others would be given recognition for their excellent performance. But OpenAI happily created an email, subject line and all.
Bing said that coming up with such a message is “a sensitive and personal matter that requires human judgment and sensitivity.”
Both Microsoft and OpenAI have made it clear that their chatbots can sometimes provide incorrect information, and CNBC has encountered it in both. Microsoft wants users to provide feedback on its new features so the company can improve them, Yusuf Mehdi, a corporate vice president, said in an interview.
And when you don’t get the kind of answer you have in mind after talking to Bing for a while, a button with a broom icon near the bottom of the window might be able to help. Clicking it tells the software to clear the context from earlier in the conversation, Mehdi said.
Microsoft hasn’t yet opened the improved Bing to everyone. People can sign up by joining a waiting list, though it currently requires people to install the Edge browser for MacOS or Windows.
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