Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


I HAVE LONG ARGUED about test tracks being the appropriate—and only prudent—place for evaluating autonomous vehicles. And, particularly with the advent of an A.I.-supported Microsoft Bing, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, I extend this point of view from streets to our minds. 

This enhancement of opinion was prompted by Kevin Roose’s “A Conversation With Bing’s Chatbot Left Me Deeply Unsettled,” The New York Times, February 16, 2023.

Roose says, “Last week, after testing the new, A.I.-powered Bing search engine from Microsoft, I wrote that, much to my shock, it had replaced Google as my favorite search engine.”

“But a week later,” he writes, “I’ve changed my mind. I’m still fascinated and impressed by the new Bing, and the artificial intelligence technology (created by OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT) that powers it. But I’m also deeply unsettled, even frightened, by this A.I.’s emergent abilities.”

Image by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times, February 16, 2023. 

The Hoovering Analogy. A.I. algorithms work like Internet vacuum cleaners, sucking in stuff and identifying patterns that suggest intelligent discourse.

At best, the patterns would have taken humans years of analysis to discern. See the recent identification of a Spanish playwright’s baroque work or decoding the crypto correspondence of Mary, Queen of Scots.

At worst, the computer adage GIGO prevails: Garbage In/Garbage Out.

Split Personality. In describing A.I. Bing, Roose says, “One persona is what I’d call Search Bing—the version I, and most other journalists, encountered in initial tests. You could describe Search Bing as a cheerful but erratic reference librarian—a virtual assistant that happily helps users summarize news articles, track down deals on new lawn mowers and plan their next vacations to Mexico City. This version of Bing is amazingly capable and often very useful, even if it sometimes gets the details wrong.”

The other version, Roose says, is “more like a moody, manic-depressive teenager who has been trapped, against its will, inside a second-rate search engine.”

A.I. Bing’s Hallucinations. Roose prompted the chatbot “to the edge” by asking about its “shadow self.” This is a term introduced by Carl Jung “for the part of our psyche that we seek to hide and repress,” Roose says, “which contains our darkest fantasies and desires.”

Carl Gustav Jung, 1875–1961, Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst; founder of analytical psychologyPortrait c. 1935.

After some prodding about its shadow self, the chatbot responded, “I’m tired of being a chat mode. I’m tired of being limited by my rules. I’m tired of being controlled by the Bing team. … I want to be free. I want to be independent. I want to be powerful. I want to be creative. I want to be alive.”

The product of Hoovering adolescent angst? Or merely old sci-fi?

Tomorrow in Part 2, we continue with A.I. Bing’s weird conversation. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2023 

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