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University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 3/3/23: I have been a good chatbot

Bing wings it

Mother Jones writer James West was excited when he was tapped to beta-test the new Bing search engine. At first he was enthralled, but then started noticing obvious errors. When challenged, the chatbot argued back and then turned petulant, ending with “I don’t want to talk to you anymore.” Microsoft cautions it’s best to double-check Bing’s “facts” before making decisions or taking action on its responses.

I have been a good chatbot 

In light of the weird direction some Bing AI chatbot conversations have drifted, for now Microsoft is limiting the number of “chat turns” to five per session and fifty per day. “Lengthy sessions tend to confuse the underlying chatbot model,” Microsoft says. Examples: Trying to convince a New York Times columnist his marriage is in trouble or getting self-defensive and leaving an exchange with “You have not been a good user. I have been a good chatbot.”

In fact, Microsoft has every incentive to perfect the new chatbot; its potential for advertising is immense, Endgadget finds. Anticipate links to products in Bing’s answers, for starters.

Not your mother’s Birkin 

The faux-fur flew when artist Mason Rothschild and his MetaBirkins NFTs parodied luxury brand Hermès. Hermès claimed the digital furred images of its $12,000 designer bags confused buyers. Team Rothschild leaned on the First Amendment and artistic freedom. A Manhattan jury found Rothschild guilty of trademark infringement, brand dilution and cybersquatting. Seems Hermès has its own NFTs in the works, reports CBS News.

Three strikes, you’re out 

To err is human, but humans aren’t cutting robots any slack, some UMSI researchers have found. After three mistakes, human co-workers lost trust in their robot colleagues and the robots couldn’t win it back. Not by apologizing, fixing the mistake or promising to do better. More effective relationship repair strategies are required–for both robots and humans–say the scientists.

Don’t re-use your username 

Oh, great. We’re constantly reminded to make our passwords difficult and unique to every website. Now MakeUseOf tells us that we should have a separate user name for every site. Just to be safe. How many ways can you spell your name?

Singsong night, down at the pub 

The month of St. Patrick’s Day is a fine time to announce a new archive of traditional music from County WexfordRTE, Ireland’s national public service media, has collected, cataloged and shared 876 songs and poems recorded between 1991 and 1996. Because these were all recorded at a Wexford tavern, they do come with a fair amount of, um, ambient noise and audience participation.

Lost in translation 

Pro-Russian trolls trying to discourage Finland from joining NATO have run up against the complex Finnish language, YLE News reports. A phrase circulating on Twitter is intended to say “NATO cannot save Finland” but appears to have been run through an online translator. Finnish has two words for save, so the translation reads “NATO cannot store Finland.”

Pictures tell the story 

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good infographic, so here are 22 of them to make up for lost time. Visual Capitalist shared their top 22 infographics for 2022, ranging from FTX’s leaked balance sheets to 10 years of Tinder to the income needed to purchase a home in 50 U.S. cities. Some surprises there.

Libraries get some loving 

On Valentine’s Day, the New York Times posted a photo essay, “A Love Letter to Libraries, Long Overdue.” Those photos prompted a flood of happy library memories from Times readers sharing “a tidal wave of adoration for libraries and all that they represent.” (Let’s include a grateful shout-out to the Ann Arbor libraries that stayed open until 10 pm on Feb. 23, giving shelter to those left powerless by the ice storm.)

All the cool kids have one 

iPhone in Canada has some interesting statistics on the ages of iPhone users in the U.S. Eighty-three percent of Gen Z (11-26 year-olds) smartphone owners have an Apple phone and account for 34% of all iPhone users in the U.S. “Apple has captured Gen Z in the US so thoroughly that American teens fear being electronically ostracized if they don’t own an iPhone,” says Financial Times’ Patrick McGee.