AI-based chatbots like the new Microsoft Bing aren’t really conscious or intelligent, right? They’re just using algorithms. They look at an existing sequence of words and use probability to select the next word. And then they do it again and again, so rapidly and fluidly that it seems like they’re talking, but they’re not.

But to leave it there seems overly simplistic. Because there’s still something amazing and (metaphorically speaking) magical going on in the interaction between a person and the Bing chatbot. Something powerful, that could potentially be very useful, and also very dangerous.

Also: to declare that Bing isn’t really conscious or intelligent presumes we know what consciousness and intelligence are. Which we don’t. Consciousness and intelligence are all around us, in all the people and animals we see and interact with. Maybe plants too. And yet we do not know what it really is.