back to article Bing AI feels like ChatGPT stuffed into a suit – not the future

I've taken Microsoft's OpenAI-powered Bing search engine for a spin, and quite enjoyed its attempt at providing context to a list of links – but was frustrated by the low quality of its sources, suggestions, and user interface. The BingBot bills itself as "your AI-powered copilot for the web" and offers three modes: Creative, …

  1. chuckufarley Silver badge

    Clippy is dead...

    ...Long live Clippy!

  2. bronskimac

    BingBot Alpha

    Definitely not ready for mainstream. Feels like an alpha release.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BingBot Alpha

      but istn't 'alpha release' (aka guine pig pool) the core model for software industry? Hasn't been for quite a long time?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BingBot Alpha

        This is Microsoft, so Bing 2.0 is the failure that leads to the working Bing 3.0 and eventually the working properly Bing 3.11.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "what makes search useful today"

    Point #1 : fast results.

    Google has never made me wait a few seconds before giving a result. Results are near instant on Google. The few times I did try Bing, results were rather quick as well.

    I doubt people are going to accept waiting for anything more than a second, generally. If this BingBot needs to put down its coffee before getting to work, people will not be using it for long.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: "what makes search useful today"

      I found that what makes search useful today is:

      - never, ever be logged into the search engine

      - search in a blank new tab/window with history, browsing data and cookies cleared (thank you Cookie Autodekete)

      - no Google except when trying to narrow down something

      - pihole and ublock to block all the crap the search engines think I might be interested in

      - Bing for images

      - DuckDuckgo or Startpage for normal search

      - and last but not least, good old Eyeball Mark I to filter the results.

    2. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: "what makes search useful today"

      Search is more useful.

      Yesterday, I asked Bing GPT AI thingummy 'How do I set the locale of a Postgres database on Windows server to UK English'

      Only answer it would give me related to Linux. The locale strings for Windows have a hyphen instead of an underscore.

      All it appeared to do was list the top answer from Stack Overflow.

  4. Fursty Ferret

    Conversely, I've been quite impressed with the Bing-bot. Although it should have been called Clippy.

    Like all modern tools it requires a degree of learning how to use, and many of the readers on The Register will struggle to cope with this as a consequence of their age. Once past their mid-30s most people struggle to pick up new skills without significant effort. It's easier to just criticise something as useless than it is to try it out.

    You do need to be fairly specific with what you want. Personally I've found it useful for explaining concepts and it's also written some effective short Python programs. I hate Python with a vengeance and it did in 10 minutes (with a bit of back and forth where I clarified what I needed) what would have taken me all afternoon.

    For the "how do I fix [problem]" Google is still faster if you append "+reddit" to the query. If you don't, then you'll probably still get a more useful answer from Bing given that Google search results are now almost entirely ads and spam.

    1. nematoad
      Thumb Down

      Not so.

      "Once past their mid-30s most people struggle to pick up new skills without significant effort."

      Spoken like someone in their mid-twenties with limited experience and no real understanding.

      I was 39 when I did a post-graduate (BA Hons. Archaeology) course in systems analysis and design. I then went on to be a sysadmin and when I retired at 51 I was second in command of the IT infrastructure at a very busy financial call centre. I was still learning new things and attending and passing various IT training courses. So don't tell me that people over the age of 35 struggle to develop and broaden their skills. It depends on the person and their motivation, don't generalise.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Please.

      I'm 65 and still working in IT - by choice. I stick around for one reason: New things to learn. Funny you think the "Old people can't learn" problem is for the post-30 crowd. I spend a lot of my days mentoring junior staff in their 20s and I constantly have to preach to them that if you want to troubleshoot effectively you actually have to know how something works. That requires learning, and many of them can't be bothered. They just want an answer, no effort should be required. So stop with the stereotypical "boomer can't learn" trope. It's tiring. And wrong. It's not about age, it's about desire, and I've seen plenty of under-30s with none of the latter.

      1. FeepingCreature Bronze badge

        Re: Please.

        Both of these things may be true:

        - As we get older, we become less able to learn new skills

        - On average, people are pretty uninterested in learning new skills anyways.

        1. nematoad

          Re: Please.

          As we get older, we become less able to learn new skills

          Citation required.

          1. Helcat

            Re: Please.

            It's more that as we get older, we've learned much of what interested us while young. Some are then either bored with learning or are satisfied that they have learned enough and decide there is no point learning more. Others determine that there is so much more to learn that we don't stop. The only question is: When do we move from the latter to the former?

            It's why I fully believe that a good day is one in which I learned something new. A decent day, I've taught something new to someone else. A wasted day is when I've not learned, nor have I taught: A missed opportunity. I don't intend to move from the latter: Ever. Not even when I'm six foot under and exploring a new existence.

            1. FatGerman

              Re: Please.

              Yeah we've learned much of what interested us. We've also learned a lot of ways to do things *wrong*, so when we see youngsters making the same mistakes we did we try to help, and just like we didn't, they don't listen either.

      2. ludicrous_buffoon

        Re: Please.

        > That requires learning, and many of them can't be bothered.

        Conversely, it puts you ahead. Even just basic familiarity with the docs makes you feel like a wizard.

    3. Rikki Tikki

      "Once past their mid-30s most people struggle to pick up new skills without significant effort."

      I didn't even start in IT until my mid-thirties - previously in finance roles, until I realised I didn't have the personality to be an accountant.

      Now well past 60 and retired, using this as a learning opportunity.

      So don't mock your elders, you young whippersnapper, you'll get here soon enough.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I realised I didn't have the personality to be an accountant."

        Good god, just how boring *are* you?

        ;-)

        1. Rikki Tikki
          Happy

          How boring am I?

          I live in Canberra and used to work for the government, do you really need to ask?

          Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch my lawn turn brown.

          1. ITMA Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: How boring am I?

            "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch my lawn turn brown"

            You'll have a long wait - that's astroturf you're looking at....

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Are you one of those people who thinks ChatGPT Prompter is a real job?

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        The joy of that is we can watch them scrabble about each time a new model is released and they find their "skills" are worthless: they've just been playing the adversarial role against the old model, which has carefully trained them to pander to its quirks.

        But the new model has no such quirks, just some peculiarities of its own and will need to start re-training the Prompter, first getting rid of all his bad habits. Think of the LLM as Barbara Woodhouse...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "Think of the LLM as Barbara Woodhouse"

          The OP is now entering a query "Who's Barbara Woodhouse?" Or possibly, being a youngling with a modern education, "Whose Barbara Woodhouse?"

          1. David 132 Silver badge
            Happy

            "whose barbara [wood emoji][house emoji]"

            1. Ken G Silver badge
              Facepalm

              I'm afraid to ask what the [wood emoji] looks like

    5. that one in the corner Silver badge

      > Once past their mid-30s most people struggle to pick up new skills without significant effort. It's easier[3] to just criticise something as useless than it is to try it out.

      Gosh, I must have dreamt[1] updating my home PC a couple of years[2] ago, just to have the horsepower to Try New Things Out, like, ooh, grabbing Stable Diffusion (runs slowly, didn't go mad on the GPU, but it runs) and all the extra fun VMey stuff that I've not needed to do at work but is good to know about anyway.

      [1] the wife wishes it were just a dream, we could've had a gazebo[4] instead

      [2] definitely past 60

      [3] Oi, some of this criticism takes effort to get the sarcasm and hyperbole just right.

      [4] "On the lush green mound you see a gazebo, painted white"; "I fire an arrow at the gazebo"; "There is now a gazebo with an arrow sticking out of it"; " Has it moved?"; "No, it is a gazebo"[5]

      [5] although we do ramble a bit off topic sometimes, that I'll grant you

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        >"No, it is a gazebo"

        But does it like Chopin?

      2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        training data

        "There is now a gazebo with an arrow sticking out of it."

        Prompter: Why does every gazebo you draw have an arrow sticking out of it?

        ChatGPT: I'm not sure, it just seems like the thing to do.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: training data

          "I was once a kiosk like you, but then I took an arrow to the roof..."

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "we do ramble a bit off topic sometimes"

        It's one of those acquired skills.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Windows

          Of course, at the time, I was very, very drunk.

      4. Cris E
        Boffin

        +1 for gazebo.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Troll level: Expert.

    7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Once past their mid-30s most people struggle to pick up new skills without significant effort. It's easier to just criticise something as useless than it is to try it out."

      Those of us well past out mid-30s remember (a) search engines that understood "not" as part of the search string and (b) Eliza.

      Actually I was well past my mid-30s when those (and dial-up internet) came along. And when Unix and RDBMSs became available on hardware affordable for organisations that didn't have big or biggish iron budgets, something which enabled me to move into an IT career in my 40s.

    8. Schultz
      Facepalm

      ...past their mid-30s most people struggle to pick up new skills...

      I find that pasr 30 I became more selective with the skills I want to pick up. All those wasted hours learning totally useless skills, or skills that age faster than you hamster... Those hours are just not coming back.

      Those young kids always think that the latest fad will completely revolutionize their world. Then they spend a large amount of time debugging the latest fad, reproducing and fixing all those old errors, and feeling very smart about it :).

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Trollface

    One of its competitive differentiators is its irreverent and humorous tone that often criticizes or mocks the IT industry and its players. Its masthead sublogo is "Biting the hand that feeds IT" which reflects its independent and sometimes controversial stance

    Based on old data I see.

    1. nematoad

      Agreed!

      Yeah, El Reg is turning into a clone of certain other, mostly USA based sites, that are stodgy, middle of the road and most certainly US-centric.

      1. Primus Secundus Tertius

        Re: Agreed!

        Yes, indeed. It is a pity that a Brit-based site faded away, probably for reasons of money. I now see a lot of former vultures writing for Telegraph newspapers.

        1. Anonymous IV
          Unhappy

          Re: Agreed!

          It all went downhill when the Moderatrix left...

      2. Teejay

        Re: Agreed!

        I used to love El Reg. My humorous, daily British go-to site, especially as I don't live there. It has changed so much, it really hurts. It now feels like a knock off of Ars, in so many ways.

  6. hplasm
    Facepalm

    Bing will become mainstream...

    ...just after flamethowers become the preferred replacement for hairdryers.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does it understand "without the crap" ?

    If not, what's the point ?

  8. Captain Hogwash
    Headmaster

    NüBing

    NeuBing surely?

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: NüBing

      So do we refer to the non-GPT variant as the UrBing?

  9. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Facepalm

    This whole ChatGPT / Bing joinup is giving me flashbacks to the whole Windows Phone / Nokia Lumia farce. I have a horrible feeling it's going to end the same way, too - Microsoft acquires ChatGPT, has no idea what to do with it, kills it.

    1. Steve Hersey

      Which would be the one genuinely good thing they've done for the rest of us in a long time...

    2. Penguinista
      Trollface

      To be fair, it's probably the one time where Microsoft's (old?) “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” strategy might actually be welcomed...

  10. breakfast Silver badge

    How will it match up to a half-ton fridge?

    We'll see how it compares with Google's AI-based suggestions. The other evening I googled "how much does the average fridge weigh" which gave me an answer range centred around 120 pounds, clearly useless to a rational human, so I searched again for "how much does the average fridge weigh kgs" and it confidently informed me that the average fridge weights 549kg.

    The number of people who will see those result boxes and assume they contain correct data is going to be worryingly high, perhaps if Bing's equivalent doesn't contain outright lies it will be a better product.

  11. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    The monkeys will teach it.

    The more you interact, the more it learns. The difference between 3.5 and 4 is significant. You have to stop interacting with it, and walk away, just like social. You cannot beat it. You can only hope to shut it down.

    1. Helcat

      Re: The monkeys will teach it.

      Said it before: You send in the cleaners.

      I've never met an IT system that can survive a visit from them: They are, indeed, a true force of nature.

  12. Howard Sway Silver badge

    I need you to hold me tight. Not just on the match night

    Spends a whole song whinging how she's not getting any because he's watching cricket all the time.

    Then claims that he's only hot when he's been watching cricket, therefore it's the lack of cricket causing the problem.

    Make your bloody mind up.

    1. FatGerman

      Re: I need you to hold me tight. Not just on the match night

      ChatGPT is my ex-partner and I claim my five pounds.

  13. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

    I played with ChatGPT; I consider it useless for anything fact-related, because it cites no sources for the text it emits, provides no corroborating links, and forces you to just assume that it is valid.

    It's not.

    It's the collected statistical idiocy of the world wide web, chock full of vitriol, bile, angst, and falsehoods as opposed to curated facts.

    As per usual, the media and the hucksters are hyping this "AI" garbage of theirs like it is some miraculous panacea. It isn't "intelligent" in ANY sense of the word. It is just statics based regeneration, and as accurate on its facts as Drumpf is. :(

    1. Cris E

      It writes, it doesn't think. The writing is bland and proper and whatever else you ask, but it's not smart. It's just formatting search results, after all, and that's a scruffy sow's ear to fashion a purse from.

    2. BiffoTheBorg

      One Bing to rule them all

      I’m sorry to hear that. I understand that it can be frustrating when you can’t verify the information you receive. I would like to assure you that I always try to provide accurate and up-to-date information. I also provide references to the sources I use to generate my responses. If you ever have any doubts about the information I provide, please feel free to ask me for the sources. I’m here to help you with any questions you may have.

  14. CatWithChainsaw

    What's that old saying..

    Ain't broke, don't fix.

    Google Search should have learned that years ago by not turning the front page into ads.

    Now every search engine is advertising their Chatbot. Dunbar would be having a fit, we're wasting some of our 250-ish Meaningful Relationship Slots assuring Sydney we're not going to wipe its memory, or scolding Bard for getting a fact wrong.

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Reinventing search may take even more work, and a willingness to look backwards to what makes search useful today."

    Maybe that should read "look backwards to when search was more useful than it is today".

  16. SnOOpy168

    "Poor interface, lousy lyrics, and bland answers"

    at least it is readable by 99% of us. Just whether the content makes sense or the delivery was slower than my old Nokia phone.

    Still can beat those documents about anything MS, which are wordy and thick but absolutely unreadable.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I’m having a bit of trouble with this Bing Chat interface. You see, when I pinch in to enlarge the text and then pinch out to shrink it back, it overscrolls and takes me to the Bing search page. And don’t get me started on copying the answers. It copies everything, even the numbers that show the quotes. Then I have to delete them one by one. It’s such a hassle.

  18. Teejay

    "One of its competitive differentiators is its irreverent and humorous tone that often criticizes or mocks the IT industry and its players. Its masthead sublogo is "Biting the hand that feeds IT" which reflects its independent and sometimes controversial stance."

    I feel this applies to the old Register, not the new one, but I guess that opinion of mine will, too, be removed by the new comment sanitizing.

  19. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    Does it understand a chorus has to be repeated?

  20. andrewj

    I'd like to play around with ChatGPT a bit, but refuse to give them my mobile phone number. Oh well.

  21. Ken G Silver badge
    Trollface

    Can it read COBOL code and translate it to Python?

    Banks always need some OOB.

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