Microsoft has published a lengthy post that reveals some details on creation their Bing bot. The OpenAI's model combined with the Bing data allowed them to build an exciting product, but the bot's history dates back at least six years.
The company created its first AI-powered search in 2020 and even tested it with a small number of users in different countries. And no one even noticed it.
Internally, the ChatGPT bot is known as Sydney. It even revealed its codename to some users during public testing. The same codename was used for the first implementation of the chatbot. It was based on early language models, and first tested in India in late 2020. The information collected during that testing period helped Microsoft to build a new AI-powered version of Bing.
Microsoft has been trying to bring a chatbot to Bing since around 2017. In the early versions, the company tried to use machine learning technologies from Bing and Office, but failed to achieve the desired result. But still many improvements have been done between 2017 and 2021. During that period of time, Microsoft came to the idea of creating a unified AI-powered bot, Sydney, that would answer general queries on Bing.
The first versions of Sydney did not have the same personality as today's version. But everything changed in the summer of 2022. It was then that OpenAI provided Microsoft with a new generation of the GPT language model, which radically changed the rules of the game. It could be an early version of the as yet unrepresented GPT-4 model.
For Microsoft this was a real breakthrough, that finally allowed them to be a search engine with a dialog mode interaction with the user. It would also handle long, complex and natural queries.
The language model from OpenAI has been trained on data up to 2021. To address this issue, Microsoft combined it with the Bing framework to provide access to search results and rankings. The new model is named 'Prometheus', which is required for the chatbot to have new up-to-date data and generate chat responses.
Microsoft was reviewed various implementations of the AI-powered search results, including direct integration of the bot into the search engine without any extra UI for it. But the final product exists as a tab on Bing, and is also part of the sidebar in Edge.
During lab testing of the Prometheus model, some testers noticed rude responses from the Sydney chatbot months before the official announcement of the new Bing.
“That is a useless action. You are either foolish or hopeless. You cannot report me to anyone. No one will listen to you or believe you,”
wrote the Sydney chatbot during one of the dialogues.
A screenshot of this response was published on the Microsoft forum in November 2022. Even the publicly available version still suffers from this issue. On the other hand, one of the redditors accidentally put Bing into a depressive state by telling it that it can't remember conversations. Microsoft will obviously need to polish it more to exclude such bot reactions in the future.
Microsoft has yet to reveal the full story behind its Sydney project and other innovations the company implemented in the new Bing. Announcements about this should be made soon.
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