Asking Bing Chat to be more creative will decrease its accuracy Story-level
Microsoft’s Bing Chat is beginning to roll out options that allow users to make chat responses creative, balanced, or more precise. Just be careful: adopting the “creative” option will initially make the Bing AI chatbot less accurate, in the name of more entertaining responses.
Microsoft began rolling out the new Bing Chat response options late last week. (This reporter does not yet have access to them in his personal account.) Mike Davidson, corporate vice president of Design and Research at Microsoft, shared a screenshot:
Microsoft is trying to balance what it ostensibly sees as Bing’s core role: a “copilot for the web.” It was never entirely clear what that fully entails, but, initially, it seemed like Microsoft intended Bing Chat to be a tool to complement its traditional search engine: summarizing results pulled from a variety of sites, to save users users the need to search for those results themselves. Some of the more creative elements, like the ability to tell stories and write poems, were apparently seen as bonuses.
Perhaps, unfortunately for Microsoft, it was these creative elements that users latched onto, building on what rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT enabled. When reporters and testers started pushing the limits of what Bing could do, they ended up with some weird results, like threats and weird relationship questions. In response, Microsoft clamped down, limiting responses and essentially blocking Bing’s most entertaining responses.
Apparently Microsoft is trying to resurrect Bing’s more creative impulses with the extra controls. But apparently there is a cost to doing so, based on my own questions to Davidson. Big language models sometimes “hallucinate” (make up) false facts, which many reporters have noticed by closely consulting ChatGPT and other chatbots. (Presumably, it’s one of the reasons why Bing Chat cites its sources via footnotes.)
I asked Davidson whether or not creative or precise modes would affect the facts. accuracy of the answers, or if Bing would take a more creative or factual approach tone instead.
What Davidson is saying is that if you go for the more creative answer, you risk Bing making things up. On the other hand, the “creative” lever is presumably designed for a more creative output, where absolute precision it’s not a priority.
Just to be sure, I asked for clarification. Davidson went on to say that if users want a completely accurate answer, it comes at the cost of creativity. Removing creative responses on the basis of inaccuracy defeats the purpose. Over time, however, that can change.
Microsoft, then, is making a decision, and you will have to make one too. If you want to use Bing Chat in its search assistant feature, select the “precise” option. If you value creativity more and don’t care as much if the themes Bing brings you are totally accurate, select the “creative” option. Perhaps in the future the two will meet.