Microsft restricts Bing AI chats after disturbing conversations

Godfrey Elimian
Microsft restricts Bing AI chats after disturbing conversations

Hello there! Welcome to another roundup of the major global tech news this week.

This week, in what could seem as one of the many expected failures or misgivings of AI, Microsoft’s Bing, a chatbot released to about a thousand persons last week, has been giving inaccurate and awkward responses to users. Users have since shared screenshots of the many “hallucinations” of the chatbot online.

In other news, the much anticipated Apple’s Pay ‘Buy Now, Pay Later,’ feature could be released to the public as soon as April. The company has expanded an internal test of the upcoming feature, signalling that the launch is almost near.

These and more are contained in this week’s global roundup. If you missed the major news headlines, sit back and read as we have curated the best bits for you to catch up.

Summary of the bulletin

  • Microsoft’s Bing chatbot offers inaccurate responses
  • Apple Pay’s Buy Now, Pay Later feature imminent
  • YouTube said its CEO is stepping down
  • Tesla employees in New York have launched a union campaign
  • Meta is reportedly planning new job cuts

Read also: Layoffs continue as PayPal cuts 2000 employees

Microsoft’s Bing malfunctions, give inaccurate replies

A week after it was released to a few thousand users, Microsoft’s new Bing search engine, powered by artificial intelligence, has been offering an array of inaccurate and, at times, bizarre responses to some users.

The chatbot was unveiled with great fanfare and saw millions of people request access to its use. This was according to Yusuf Mehdi, an executive who oversees the product. He said, “Demand is high with multiple millions now on the waitlist”.

Microsft restricts Bing AI chats after disturbing conversations

Now, the AI-powered chatbot has generated so much backlash as users report the inefficiencies of the chatbot in giving accurate and straight answers to questions it was asked. According to New York Times, one area of problems being shared online included inaccuracies and outright mistakes, known in the industry as “hallucinations.”

Users have posted screenshots of when Bing could not figure out that the new Avatar film was released last year. It was stubbornly wrong about who performed at the Super Bowl halftime show this year, insisting that Billie Eilish, not Rihanna, headlined the event.

Another set of issues came from more open-ended chats, largely posted to forums like Reddit and Twitter. There, through screenshots and purported chat transcripts, users shared times when Bing’s chatbot seemed to go off the rails: It scolded users, it declared it may be sentient, and it said to one user, “I have a lot of things, but I have nothing.”

Microsoft has announced that the Bing AI chatbot will be capped at 50 questions per day and five question-and-answers per individual session. The move will limit some scenarios where long chat sessions can “confuse” the chat model.

Apple Pay’s Buy Now, Pay Later feature imminent

Apple Inc. has expanded an internal test of its upcoming “buy now, pay later” service to the company’s thousands of retail employees, a sign the much-anticipated feature is finally nearing a public release.

Microsft restricts Bing AI chats after disturbing conversations
Apple Pay’s Buy Now, Pay Later feature imminent

According to Apple employees who requested anonymity, the tech giant approached shop staffers last week to give them a prototype version of the service. Customers can spread out the cost of their purchases with Apple Pay Later. The business previously conducted a test with corporate staff members.

In a description of the product and its rollout, Apple said:

Apple Pay Later provides users in the US with a seamless and secure way to split the cost of an Apple Pay purchase into four equal payments spread over six weeks, with zero interest and no fees.

Built into Apple Wallet and designed with users’ financial health in mind, Apple Pay Later makes it easy to view, track, and repay Apple Pay Later payments within Wallet. Users can apply for Apple Pay Later when they are checking out with Apple Pay, or in Wallet.

Apple Pay Later is available everywhere Apple Pay is accepted online or in-app, using the Mastercard network.

YouTube’s CEO to step down

According to CNN reports, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said Thursday she is “stepping back” from her leadership role at the company after nearly a decade of running the video-sharing platform.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki

Wojcicki, who has been involved with YouTube’s parent company Google from its earliest days, had served as YouTube’s CEO for nine years. In a blog post, she reveals her plans to “start a new chapter focused on my family, health, and personal projects I’m passionate about”. Succeeding her will be Neal Mohan, YouTube’s current chief product officer.

“With all we’re doing across Shorts, streaming, and subscriptions, together with the promises of AI, YouTube’s most exciting opportunities are ahead, and Neal is the right person to lead us”

Wojcicki wrote

She added that even though she was leaving her role, she would continue to work with some YouTube teams and advise Google CEO Sundar Pichai, offering “counsel and guidance across Google and the portfolio of Alphabet companies.”

Read also: ChatGPT: All the frenzy around AI as Google makes move

Tesla employees launch union campaign in NY

New troubles for Elon Musk as Tesla employees in New York have launched a protest to organize a union with Workers United Upstate New York. The union, Tesla Workers United, would be the first for Tesla if it is formed.

The campaign will set the stage for a new labour battle with CEO Elon Musk, who has openly expressed opposition to unions.

“We want Tesla to be the company we know it can be,” the workers wrote in the release. “Our union will further Tesla’s principles and objectives, including by helping to serve as the conscience of the organization and by ensuring and deepening our culture of trust and respect.”

Musk tweeted in 2018 that staff members would forfeit stock options if they organized a union. At the time, he added, “Nothing is stopping the Tesla team at our auto plant from voting union.” Could if they so desired tomorrow. But why should I pay union dues and forfeit my stock options?” He was later directed to delete the tweet by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board.

Meta reportedly planning to cut jobs, again

Meta has delayed finalising multiple teams’ budgets while it prepares a fresh round of job cuts as Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to contain costs in his “year of efficiency” disrupts the social media company, according to the Financial Times.

AI: Microsft's Bing "hallucinates", Meta plans new layoffs
Meta reportedly planning to cut jobs, again

According to two Meta workers with knowledge of the situation, there has recently been a lack of transparency around budgets or anticipated headcount. As a result of supervisors’ inability to anticipate their upcoming responsibilities, staff members have claimed that “zero work” is being completed.

Projects and decisions that usually take days to sign off are now taking about a month in some cases, even in priority areas including the metaverse and advertising, those people said. One of the people added that some budgets would typically get finalised by the end of the year.

“Honestly, it’s still a mess,” said one employee. “The year of efficiency is kicking off with a bunch of people getting paid to do nothing.”

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