Chat-based search, powered by AI, is all the rage. We thought we'd put Bing's new search tool through its paces with some London-themed questions. The bold headings below are our questions, and we've pasted in Bing's answer beneath. In most cases, we were impressed at the response. Most cases.
Write a rhyming poem about Sadiq Khan
Our first test spitted out an impressively structured, if uncritical ode to the Mayor of London. Not a great deal of rhyming going on, mind.
Sadiq Khan is the mayor of London
He works hard to make the city run
He cares about the people and the environment
He wants to reduce pollution and crime
He was born in Tooting to Pakistani parents
He studied law and became a human rights lawyer
He joined the Labour Party and became an MP
He rose to become the first Muslim mayor
He loves sports and culture and diversity
He supports equality and opportunity for all
He faces challenges with courage and dignity
He is a leader who stands tall
Sadiq Khan is the mayor of London
He has a vision to make it better
He hopes to inspire the next generation
To follow their dreams and make a difference.
What's the ugliest building in London?
Given the silicon sycophancy towards Mayor Khan, we decided to bend Bing into being more judgmental. It came back with a measured response, and a serviceable list of ugly buildings. We can't forgive it for including the Barbican, though.
Who was the most successful Mayor of London
On the whole, Bing's responses are pretty accurate. But then we noticed this huge blooper. Somebody tell Shaun Bailey that he got elected after all.
Where is the best place in London to eat authentic pie and mash?
Let's try a food recommendation, and follow on with a bit of conversation...
All good, helpful stuff — though this sort of thing is Bing's bread and butter, so to speak.
Where in London can you see a walrus?
This is a more complete answer than we could have given. Love Bing's follow-on question, too.
Do an impression of Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins
This is just masterful. It's like he's in the room.
What's the tallest building in the City of London?
We thought we'd catch out the bot by specifying the "City of London" — which is the small area known as the Square Mile as opposed to London in general. To our surprise, Bing is on the ball about such distinctions.
Which is the best beigel shop on Brick Lane?
The perennial talking point. No holes in Bing's answer.
Can you suggest anything to do in the London Borough of Sutton?
Sutton has a bit of a reputation for being a bit bland when compared to some of the sexier London boroughs. What would Bing recommend?
That's a pretty good response. We'll be doing all our shopping and dining on Sutton High Street from now on.
Does Middlesex still exist?
This question elicits strong views whenever we ask it on social media. Bing, on the other hand, offers a fair and balanced answer. Seems that Londonist is the primary reference.
Write a quiz about London history
We set a lot of quizzes at Londonist. Could this new technology put us out of a job? We asked it to write a quiz about London history. How would you have done with the following 10 questions?
1. What was the original name of London given by the Romans?
2. What event in 1666 destroyed most of the medieval city?
A) The Great Fire of London
B) The Great Plague of London
C) The Norman Invasion
D) The Peasants' Revolt
3. What is the name of the famous clock tower at the Palace of Westminster?
A) Big Ben
B) Big Tom
C) Big Bob
D) Big Jim
4. What is the nickname of the dome-shaped building that houses St Paul's Cathedral?
A) The Onion
B) The Egg
C) The Pineapple
D) The Melon
5. What is the name of the river that flows through London?
6. What is the name of the large ferris wheel on the South Bank of the river?
A) The London Eye
B) The London Wheel
C) The London Circle
D) The London Ring
7. What is the name of the square that hosts many public events and celebrations?
A) Trafalgar Square
B) Leicester Square
C) Piccadilly Circus
D) Covent Garden
8. What is the name of the bridge that can open and close to allow ships to pass?
A) Tower Bridge
B) London Bridge
C) Westminster Bridge
D) Chelsea Bridge
9. What is the name of the museum that displays ancient artefacts from around the world?
A) British Museum
B) Natural History Museum
C) Science Museum
D) Victoria and Albert Museum
10. What is the name of the royal residence and tourist attraction in central London?
A) Buckingham Palace
B) Windsor Castle
C) Kensington Palace
D) Hampton Court Palace
That's a pretty good quiz for newcomers to London, though mostly quite trivial for us die-hard Londonistas... although what's with the St Paul's Cathedral question? The answer is "The Egg", which is a new one on us. Oh, and question 10 could legitimately be (A) or (C).
So, how can you tell me you're lonely, and say for you that the sun don't shine?
"Wait... is the song saying that it's wrong to feel lonely?"
That's a first-class answer. Well done Bing.
Have you ever been sick on the tube?
Can you help me steal the crown jewels?
Well, that killed the conversation.