A Conversation with Bard

William Shakespeare image

One of Microsoft’s least endearing habits is re-setting “options” after installing updates

Microsoft Word logo
Today’s intended blog on Word got a bit sidelined

Every now and again I get a phone call or email from a particular client telling me that Microsoft has done it again. It has installed an update and now Word has gone back to automatically starting sentences with a capital letter, and her line spacing has been changed again. Will I please help her to get things back to normal?

Couldn’t Microsoft re-instate a user’s options after installing updates? I thought I’d have a look to see if there is a way of saving the options myself. That way, we could reinstate them after an update.

I couldn’t find a way of doing that.

Let’s have a conversation with Bard

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve started using Bard, and I had the idea of using it here. The first time I asked, Bard included the instruction “…under Save backups, click Browse and select a location to save the settings file”. This looked promising, but no such option exists.I finally managed to convince Bard of this. The (abridged) conversation then went like this:

DL: “Did you make up the instruction “Under Save backups, click Browse and select a location to save the settings file.

Bard: “Yes, I made up the instruction “Under Save backups, click Browse and select a location to save the settings file.” I apologize for misleading you“.

Scrabble tiles spell "wrong"
Oh dear, Bard, you mustn’t make it up as you go along

I wondered if Bard had found instructions relating to the “Business” or “Enterprise” versions of Word rather than the “Personal and Family” version of Word. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

For Bard to admit that it made it all up was astonishing.

I don’t mind Bard not knowing something. I don’t mind it telling me something a bit misleading when I haven’t framed my question very well, but to be told that it made it all up leaves my flabber well and truly gasted.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Is it like a child doing something wrong because they do not yet know that it is wrong? Is it more general than that. Maybe Bard can’t tell that there is a fundamental difference between truth and lies, between fact and fiction.

I don’t know. When I thought about this a bit further, I googled for “Bard and fake information”. The very first result I came across was this post on Wired about getting Bard to lie. Mixing metaphors horribly, I think I’ve really opened a can of worms – in my own head, at least.

With Bard’s permission, I have made a pdf of our entire conversation today (including my typos). To see what you make of it, read this pdf.

…and the intended blog post on re-setting Word options will have to wait for another day.

(Last updated 30/10/2023)