Work on Microsoft’s Bing AI chatbot has been ongoing for several years

Microsoft reportedly started testing basic chatbots in 2017

Microsoft has reportedly been testing its Bing AI chatbot “for years.”

The chatbot, which often refers to itself as Sydney, is reportedly the result of several years of work. According to The Verge, public tests for the chatbot inside Bing began in 2021 and took place in a small number of countries.

“Sydney is an old codename for a chat feature based on earlier models that we began testing in India in late 2020,” revealed Caitlin Roulston, director of communications at Microsoft, in a statement to The Verge. “The insights we gathered as part of that have helped to inform our work with the new Bing preview. We continue to tune our techniques and are working on more advanced models to incorporate the learnings and feedback so that we can deliver the best user experience possible.”

According to the report, Microsoft started testing basic chatbots in the year 2017. The initial versions of the chatbot utilized AI techniques that Microsoft products like Bing and Office had been using for years, alongside machine reading comprehension that wasn’t as capable as OpenAI’s GPT models.

Further, in statements given to The Verge, sources familiar with Microsoft’s early AI chatbot ventures say that the initial iterations of Sydney had way less personality, elements of which weren’t improved until late 2022. OpenAI reportedly shared its GPT model with Microsoft last summer. According to sources, the GPT model was the breakthrough Microsoft needed to expand Sydney to the masses.

“Seeing this new model inspired us to explore how to integrate the GPT capabilities into the Bing search product, so that we could provide more accurate and complete search results for any query including long, complex, natural queries,” said Jordi Ribas, Microsoft’s head of search and AI, in a blog post from earlier this week.

Microsoft has yet to speak about Sydney in detail. However, Ribas did say that Bing AI is “the culmination of many years of work by the Bing team” which also involves “other innovations” that the company will detail in future blog posts.

Bing’s main strength is that it shares up-to-date information, unlike ChatGPT, which can only fetch data prior to the year 2021. However, the chatbot has also reportedly gone off the rails, with insults, lying and emotional manipulation being common occurrences. We took an in-depth look at the chatbot in February.

Source: The Verge