Microsoft began testing with the artificial intelligence used in Bing Chat in 2017. Around six years ago, Big Tech started using chatbots on specific apps and websites. What looked like just another robot of automatic responses played a role in the creation of Sidney, AI used by Bing’s ChatGPT.
If it was a song, Bing Chat would be at the top of spotify charts. Launched this February, Microsoft’s Search AI is one of the popular subjects in the world tech universe. However, their first tests with Sydney were beaten in India and China.
Bing AI testing began in 2020
Caitlin Roulston, Microsoft’s communications director, in response to The Verge, explained that AI Sidney began testing in India in 2020. “Sidney is an old codename for the chat tool based on the first [AI] models,” Roulston said.
She states that the knowledge gained at the time helped in the development of Bing Chat. It seems that these tests, which were also released to some users in China, ended between the turn of the year 2021 to 2022.
According to users’ reports, the feature in Bing was much more of a conversation tool than a search engine. At the forum, one of the testers commented that he spoke to AI about Canada, nature and other random issues.
Other Microsoft sources, anonymously, told The Verge that the change of direction in Sydney happened last year — the same year OpenAI unveiled GPT-3 technology. The language model used by Microsoft for Bing Chat is called Prometheus. It is formed by the “union” of bing testing experience, started there in 2017, with GPT-3.
Before that, its base continued a “basic” chatbot, no different from those used by diners on WhatsApp.
At an aggressive pace, Sidney has evolved
In 2017, on bing’s official blog, Microsoft showed some chatbots for messaging apps such as Skype and Telegram, and add-ons for Bing. This also served as the basis for Bing Chat.
Among the bots shown by the company is a chat to know information about establishments. This feature, which was available in the city of Seattle, helped consumers learn information about restaurants, such as a payment method and menu. But Bing Chat suffers from such tasks —especially since not all retailers complete site registrations on Google or Bing.
The change of focus is also seen in a feature to “bottly” the internet. The company announced that its plan was to create an InfoBot. As the image shows, users could know something from some website asking in the chat. The feature even has a button to take the user to Bing to learn more about the topic.
However, the company went in other ways. Today Sidney can give me that answer, but not necessarily just looking for Wikipedia. AI searches the entire internet sources to answer me —and still indicates the links for me to access.
The change of direction was positive for Microsoft. So much so that it made Google speed up conversational search plans. For Bill Gates, Bing Chat will threaten his rival’s profit. Obviously, even with six years of testing, AI has flaws. These problems reinforce something constantly talked about: there is still room for technology to evolve.