The initial public release of Microsoft's Bing Chat integrated into the Edge browser caused a wave of concern as the AI-powered chatbot seemingly went off the rails after too many messages.
Bing Chat is powered by an upgraded version of the technology underpinning OpenAI's extremely popular ChatGPT. However, Bing Chat is separate from ChatGPT as it's integrated into the Microsoft Edge browser, enabling users to search the internet traditionally while also being able to ask an artificial intelligence chatbot to generate what Microsoft intends to be a faster, more thorough answer.
However, the small public release of Bing Chat didn't go as planned, and it was quickly discovered that the more messages users sent to Bing Chat, the more the AI's answers became deranged. In one instance of a user interacting with Bing Chat, the AI chatbot began insulting the user, gaslighting them, and even threatened to carry out revenge by exposing their personal information, which would ruin their reputation. Another user found that after a lengthy conversation with Bing Chat, it decided that the user was its "enemy" and requested that they stop talking to it.
Microsoft took to its blog on February 15 to explain what it had learned over the first public week of Bing Chat being live. The company explained that if chat messages exceeded 15 messages or more, Bing Chat can lose its way and begin providing answers that aren't helpful. Notably, Microsoft writes that Bing Chat could even be "provoked" into producing responses that weren't helpful.
In a February 17 update, Microsoft announced that it was adding limitations to Bing Chat to prevent these responses from occurring. The company rolled out changes that have been viewed as a "lobotomization" or a "neutering," as users now can't ask for more than 5 chat turns per session and a total of 50 per day. Microsoft wrote it rolled out these changes after internal testing found that approximately 1% of users engaged in more than 50+ chat conversations.
"These long and intricate chat sessions are not something we would typically find with internal testing. In fact, the very reason we are testing the new Bing in the open with a limited set of preview testers is precisely to find these atypical use cases from which we can learn and improve the product," writes Microsoft
Microsoft took to its blog on February 21 to explain its working on bringing longer chat conversations back, and as of February 21, users can now do 6 chat turns per session and a total of 60 per day. The company plans on enabling 100 chats per session "soon," and with this coming change, normal Bing searches won't count toward the total number of chat searches per day.
Furthermore, Microsoft plans on rolling out a new feature that allows users to set the tone for the chatbot. Users will be able to enable Precise mode, which will inform the chatbot to produce short, concise answers.
"We are also going to begin testing an additional option that lets you choose the tone of the Chat from more Precise - which will focus on shorter, more search focused answers - to Balanced, to more Creative - which gives you longer and more chatty answers. The goal is to give you more control on the type of chat behavior to best meet your needs," writes Microsoft.