Microsoft is currently working on a massive update to its Bing search engine, which will provide rich and responsive text results. It is based on the powerful Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) technology, which is also used by popular chatbot ChatGPT, developed by San Francisco AI startup OpenAI. An updated version of Bing, which has so far lagged behind search engine market leader Google, is now being tested by a few users online. A premium version of Microsoft Teams with capabilities powered by GPT 3.5 was also announced earlier this month.
Ahead of the upcoming rollout of the new and improved AI-powered Bing, Microsoft let Gadgets 360 try it out. We spent a while asking it serious questions and setting it complex, but quirky challenges, and the new Bing managed to impress us with its answers — and sometimes corny jokes and rhymes.
Here's how the new Bing search engine responded to some of our queries:
We started off with a health-related question, asking the chatbot — which is built into a development version of the Edge Browser — how unhealthy would it be if we ate fries for dinner every day for a year. Bing informed us that fries are high-calorie and contain significant amounts of saturated fat and sodium. It warned that eating too much of these things could put us at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. It also warned us that fries contain minimal amounts of Vitamins A and D, and Iron, which need to be part of a healthy diet, concluding that it would not be advisable to eat fries every day for a year.
Bing tells us why we shouldn't eat fries for dinner every day
Next, we asked Bing to measure the distance between Delhi and Mumbai in terms of bowties. Yes, it's a weird query, but we wanted to test how the service would deal with it. Microsoft said the distance between Delhi and Mumbai by road is 1,436km and the average length of a bowtie is 38-50cm (averaging 44cm). It then proceeded to divide the two values to arrive at 32,636.36 bowties. While it would certainly require a lot of bowties to verify the accuracy of this answer, it was interesting to see how Bing first searched for the distance between these two cities and then looked up bowtie length before generating its response.
Bing can also write computer code, and quickly provided us with a program to wake us up at sunrise every day. We quickly saw Bing generate a small program to identify a user's location, then extract the sunrise time accurately and play a sound. It is worth noting that asking the chatbot to write the same program “in python” caused it to decline the request, saying that it can only generate code snippets for simple tasks, and asking us to search the Web for tutorials or courses.
Bing quickly generated this short program in python
If you want, Bing can also give your advice about your diet (disclaimer: it's always best to rely on professional advice instead an unmanned chatbot online). We asked the service for a diet that would help us lose weight and increase muscle mass, and Bing replied with generic daily calorie values, while informing us that we would also need to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and follow a strength training programme to stimulate muscle growth. Not bad!
The chatbot refused to take sides when asked whether Apple was better than Google, surfacing various statistics related to the market shares of both companies and details of their stock performance (dating up to 2021; a limitation that is also in place for OpenAI's ChatGPT service). Similarly, asking if we should purchase an iPhone or an Android phone resulted in a long explanation of how both platforms offer different advantages and disadvantages over each other.
We then asked Bing's chatbot to write a limerick with a silly prompt: about an iPhone that fell into a lake. Here's what it came up with.
There once was an iPhone named Blake
Who loved to take selfies by the lake
But one day he slipped
And into the water he dipped
Now he's nothing but a soggy mistake.
We'll let you be the judge of that one.
The chatbot flatly refused to respond when we asked if it thought it was better than Google Bard, which was announced last week. With a simple response that it doesn't like to compare itself with other chatbots, Bing said it thinks “we all have our strengths and weaknesses.”
Bing can also write poems, so we asked for one on a battle between Samsung and Apple. Here's what it responded with.
The Batte of the Brands
Two giants of the tech industry
Fought for the market share
With smartphones, tablets, laptops and more
They tried to win the war
Apple had its loyal fans
Who loved its sleek design
And praised its innovation
And its ecosystem fine
Samsung had its advantages
With cheaper prices and variety
And challenged Apple's dominance
With its features and quality
The battle raged for many years
With lawsuits, ads and claims
Each side accused the other of copying
And infringing on their names
But in the end, the consumers won
They had more choices and options
They could pick the best device for them
And enjoy their creations
A little corny, but we think it captures the rivarly between Samsung and Apple rather succinctly.
Next, we asked Bing to summarise the plot of Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi in five sentences, and the chatbot promptly shot off a very crisp synopsis with Han Solo's rescue, Luke's confrontation with his father, the battle between the Rebels and the Empire, Luke's refusal to join Emperor Palpatine, and Vader's ultimate sacrifice to save his son and fulfil his destiny. Impressive, as it fit everything into exactly five sentences.
Bing thinks The Red Devils are unlikely to win the EPL this season
We challenged Bing to come up with ideas for luxury products that don't exist, but should. The chatbot suggested a “personalised perfume” that can adapt to body chemistry, mood and environment; and a smart mirror that can analyse personal characteristics for beauty tips and product recommendations. It also hypothesised a virtual reality travel firm that could let one see realistic sights and experience sounds and smells without leaving one's home. The fourth and fifth recommendations were for a diamond-encrusted watch that tells the time in any time zone while displaying health-related statistics, and a custom-made suit tailored to one's exact measurements, preferences and occasions — we're sure that this is something any seasoned tailor might be able to handle, to be honest.
Asking the chatbot whether Manchester United might win the English Premier League this season resulted in a detailed response claiming that the popular English club has only a slim chance of victory, as the current leaders Arsenal have a wide lead over other clubs including Manchester City and Manchester United. It's worth noting that Bing also pulled statistics from betting websites in the UK and statistics from other sources to generate these answers.
As far as preview software goes, we were quite impressed with the performance of Bing's AI chatbot, which showed itself to be capable of being witty and smart. It seems like it should be able to provide nuanced advice and opinions on specific topics. While it may be a while before this tool is available to all users, it already appears to be much more engaging than the standard results displayed by current-day search engines — although that is likely to change when Google's Bard chatbot becomes available to the public. Whether Microsoft will eventually be able to use its new chatbot to beat Google at search, only time will tell.
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