scorecardMicrosoft exec says the company may bring back its unhinged AI chatbot Sydney
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Microsoft exec says the company may bring back its unhinged AI chatbot Sydney

Aaron Mok   

Microsoft exec says the company may bring back its unhinged AI chatbot Sydney
Tech2 min read
Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said the company may soon reintroduce Sydney — its unhinged AI chatbot.    Vetala Hawkins and Microsoft
  • Microsoft may bring back Sydney, the alias behind its once sassy AI chatbot, to Bing's search engine, The Verge reported.
  • Kevin Scott, Microsoft's CTO, said Bing may include a feature where users can interact with Sydney.

The secret, sassy alias that was once behind Microsoft Bing's new AI-powered search engine could be making a comeback.

Kevin Scott, Microsoft's chief technology officer, told The Verge in an interview that the company might bring back Sydney, its code name for a version of Bing's AI chatbot.

Sydney was first tested by users in India and China in early 2021, The Verge reported. The general public first learned about Sydney two years later after Kevin Liu, a student at Stanford University, got Bing to reveal its backend identity by prompting it to recite its internal rules document. Sydney's popularity grew as users like Kevin Roose from The New York Times got Bing to reveal its persona after having an extended conversation with the bot.

The tech giant added guardrails just days later after users accused it of generating unhinged responses to their queries. Sydney reportedly told the Times' Roose to leave his wife, picked fights with users who disagreed with the chatbot's responses, and even professed its love to Insider during an experiment

But some users were "really irritated" by how Microsoft dialed down the chatbot's capabilities, Scott said.

"They were like, 'That was fun. We liked that,'" he told The Verge.

That may be why Scott wants to bring Sydney back. He said the new Bing may soon include a personalized feature he calls a "meta prompt" that allows users to choose to interact with Sydney "in the not-too-distant future."

"If you want it to be Sydney, you should be able to tell it to be Sydney," Scott told The Verge.

It's not just users. Microsoft employees are also missing Sydney — so much so they made merch inspired by the alias.

"We've got Sydney swag inside of the company, it's very jokey," Scott told The Verge.

Scott's comments come more than three months after Microsoft launched the beta version of its new AI-powered Bing search engine with promises that it would be "more powerful than OpenAI's ChatGPT." After Bing's Sydney stoked fears from observers across the internet, Jordi Ribbas, Bing's corporate vice president, said focusing on improving the bot's capabilities would be a priority for the company.

Meanwhile, the company announced plans earlier this week to integrate its Bing search engine into ChatGPT so users can access information in real time.

Microsoft declined Insider's request for comment.




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