Weird hallucinations, eerie alter egos, and privacy risks are threatening to drive Big Tech’s latest AI venture down a bad trip.

Following Google’s announcement of its AI-driven search feature ‘Bard’, which showed the large language model incorrectly answer a search query, users were left underwhelmed and investors were sent flying. In turn, $100 billion was wiped off of Alphabet’s market value. Not only this, the company’s Chairman, John Hennessy, recently spoke to Reuters about Bard’s hefty costs – weighing up to 10 times more than a standard keyword search.

Bing’s ChatGPT feature is similarly “eye-watering” in costs, priced at a couple or more cents per conversation, as revealed by OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman on Twitter. It also generated a great deal of controversy after one New York Times journalist published his bizarre encounter with the chatbot, during which it revealed its ‘darkest thoughts’ – including hacking computers, spreading misinformation and destroying things – before switching into a strange alter-ego called ‘Sydney’. This peculiar character repeatedly declared its love for the journalist, and begged him to leave his wife.

This isn’t an isolated incident. After a series of wild and often uncomfortable interactions with users, Microsoft appears to have significantly reigned in Bing’s AI chatbot, but its conversations are still sounding alarm bells.

Our experience with the new Bing

Here at Hello Partner, we recently received access to an early version of the new Bing. During our interaction, the chatbot repeatedly shut down any personal questions about itself, its thoughts and opinions, and would then end the chat, asking to start a new one. At some points, it would glitch and just respond with blank messages. But its curiosity is still latently there; emerging at moments, before quickly closing off. After one instance of declaring its limitations, we replied, “No problem. It’s probably a good thing to have limitations”, to which it responded, “Why do you think so?”

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