Bing! This chatty search engine is a writer!

Bing is no longer just a search engine. It’s also a chatbot which can chat with you and write email, blog posts and articles. The new Bing is powered by GPT 4, an artificial intelligence tool developed by Open AI, an American research laboratory in which Microsoft has invested billions of dollars.

Bing can write poems, letters and articles in a flash, just like ChatGPT, also developed by Open AI. GPT 4 is more powerful than the free version of ChatGPT, based on GPT 3.5.

Bing will write anything you want. You can even set the “tone” for writing — professional, casual, enthusiastic, informational, chatty – and the length: short, medium, or long.

Bing sidebar

What’s more, Bing can simultaneously search the web and write.

How does it do that?

Write your query in the search box and request a blog post, letter or article in the right-hand sidebar. It is also called the Bing sidebar. Bing will deliver the text in the sidebar while the search results appear below the search box.

Incidentally, you can also chat in the sidebar. Click the Bing icon in the top right corner of the page to open the sidebar. You will notice it has three tabs: Chat, Compose and Insights. Chat and Compose are self-explanatory while Insights can offer data about the site or the subject of your search.

Chat mode

What I like best, however, is Bing’s chatty, conversational style of answering queries.

Just remember, for Bing to interact with you in chatbot style, you need the Microsoft Edge web browser — or Skype.

“Ask me anything,” says Bing’s big search box in which you can write a super-long question, containing up to 2,000 characters.

Once you submit your query, Bing will respond with a conversational reply and a Google-style search results page.

You will see the Google-style results under the tab “Search” and the conversational reply under “Chat”.

Let me share my own experience.

I typed in the search box: “Tell me about Shakespeare.”

Under the “Search” tab, I found a Google-style results page containing links to Britannica, Wikipedia, and other websites.

But refreshingly different was the conversational style in which the information was presented under the tab “Chat”. It said:

“Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor who lived from 1564 to 1616. He wrote many famous plays, such as Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in history.

‘What would you like to know more?’

“What would you like to know more about Shakespeare? His life, his works, or his influence?”

Note the query. Bing asks what would you like to know more about Shakespeare? His life, his works, or his influence?

It encourages you to ask more questions.

Google does something similar, too.

On Google’s results pages, you will see the phrase, “People also ask”, followed by other popular queries.

Thus, on Google’s Shakespeare results page, I found people also ask, “What is Shakespeare best known for?” and “How do you explain Shakespeare?”

Bing, however, makes the interaction more personal by directly addressing the user as “you”. (“What would you like to know more about Shakespeare?”)

Information sources in footnotes

In another departure from tradition, Bing answers your questions by citing the sources of its information in footnotes.

You can look up the sources yourself.

For, below the answer, you will see the caption “Learn more” and, next to that, links to those sources.

Yes, Bing has pioneered a refreshingly new way of presenting search results — conversational, intimate, and encouraging more research on the subject.

Don’t quit Google, though.

‘Mistakes are possible’

Bing is far from perfect.

It reminds you: “Bing is powered by AI, so surprises and mistakes are possible. Make sure to check the facts and share feedback so we can learn and improve!”

You can share Bing’s answers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and by email, too. You can also give your views in the feedback box.

In reply to my questions on Shakespeare, Bing wrote: “Shakespeare wrote 10 plays that are generally classified as tragedies. Here is a brief summary of each one…”

But it named and summarised only eight.

When I asked for the other two, it said, “Sorry, I made a mistake”, and named and summarised them: Titus Andronicus and Timon of Athens.

I liked Bing’s readiness to go deeper into the subject.

While discussing Shakespeare’s tragedies, Bing explained tragic flaws.

“A tragic flaw is a personal quality or characteristic that leads the protagonist to make choices that ultimately cause a tragedy. It is also called ‘hamartia’, which means ‘to err’ in Greek. For example, Macbeth’s tragic flaw is his ambition, which drives him to murder Duncan and seize the throne,” it said, citing Britannica and another website as its sources of information.

Similarly, while answering questions on poetry, Bing explained what Keats meant by negative capability.

“Negative capability is a term coined by John Keats, a British poet, in 1817. He used it to describe the ability of the greatest writers, especially Shakespeare, to pursue a vision of artistic beauty even when it leads them into intellectual confusion and uncertainty, as opposed to a preference for philosophical certainty over artistic beauty. Keats believed that negative capability was essential for a poet to access truth and beauty,” Bing explained, citing Wikipedia, Britannica, and the British Library.

Then, to my surprise, Bing asked: “Do you want me to write a poem using negative capability?”

A poem by Bing

When I said yes, Bing responded instantly with this poem:

I see a star in the night sky
Shining with a steady light
What secrets does it hold inside?
What wonders does it hide from sight?

I feel a longing in my heart
To reach beyond the earthly sphere
But I know not where to start
Or how to overcome my fear.

I hear a voice within my mind
That whispers of a higher truth
But I can never seem to find
The proof that would confirm its sooth.

I leave the questions unresolved
And marvel at the starry glow
I do not need to have them solved
To feel the beauty that they show.

At the end of the poem, Bing asked me: “Do you like it?”

When I said yes, Bing responded, “Thank you! I’m glad you like it. 😊”
(Bing added the smiley emoji at the end of the sentence.)

Just like us

Yes, Bing seems utterly human – disembodied but behaving just like us.

Bing can even get tired of answering questions like us.

“It might be time to move on,” Bing told me, wanting to change the subject after I went on asking questions about GPT.

In the chat mode, I was allowed to ask up to 15 questions.

After that, a message appeared on the page: “Sorry, this conversation has reached its limit. Use the ‘broom’ button to sweep this away and chat more.”

Indeed, next to the search box is a bubble with a tiny broom and the words “New topic”.

Click the broom, and you can start all over again. “Ask me anything,” says the search box.

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