Gen Z lingo and search engines: A Millennial Odyssey
Alternative headline: The best use for nu-Bing Microsoft CTO could conjure was translating his daughter's slang
Comment Still on the waiting list for Microsoft's AI-powered Bing search features? No? Well, me neither, but CTO Kevin Scott recently let slip an amazing new use case that couldn't possibly be done with a boring, old-fashioned search engine like Google.
Here it comes. Are you ready?
Translating Gen Z slang.
Wow. Speaking to the New York Times podcast Hard Fork, Scott mentioned when extolling the virtues of Bing's facelift: "I have a 14-year-old daughter who says things like 'rizz' and 'bussin,' and I have no idea what she's talking about.
"You can like type this in, like, 'hey, I've got a teenager, she's saying these words I don't understand...' It's really really good at stuff like that."
Incredible! And I suppose that the all-new AI-infused Bing rattles off a treatise on the minutiae of Gen Z lingo?! $30 billion-valued OpenAI, where you have been all our lives????
As a fusty old Millennial myself, I could definitely... not see this being of any use because I don't associate with people born after the '80s except my own children, who are probably Gen Omega, let's be honest, and have not yet been corrupted by AIs or the internet.
However, curiosity got the better of me. What does "rizz" mean anyway? Sighing at my out-of-touchiness, I opened a new tab and typed into Google's legacy search engine "what does rizz mean". No capitals, no punctuation, many fewer words than Scott's abridged example of his needless conversation with a chatbot...
Noun. rizz (uncountable) (slang) One's ability to seduce a potential (usually female) love interest. Synonyms: game, charm.
Right there, at the top of the page, less than five seconds to type and get my answer.
Oh no. Guys? Has Microsoft introduced a gimmicky inefficiency dressed up as the future? Surely not. More testing needed. Alta Vista is dead, what about Yahoo? First result, dictionary.com: "Rizz is a slang term for skill in charming or seducing a potential romantic partner, especially through verbal communication. It is most commonly applied in the context of men pursuing women, but not always."
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OK, I had to do one more click than with Google, result wordier, no wonder nobody gives a toss about Yahoo. I wonder how old Jeeves handles this... Worse, first result is an article that I actually have to read, but I was able to infer the definition without clicking on the copious TikTok (shudder) videos despite the tedious writing, and it's still quicker than engaging in a lengthy conversation with a computer program.
So now I'm left scratching my head at how useful the next-gen Bing could be if this is the best example Microsoft's CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER could conjure when whipping up hype. What advantage would the OpenAI integration bring over traditionally googling something and finding out what you need to know within moments?
Perhaps it is the chatbot's ability to quickly distill information without having to open another webpage, and perhaps certain demographics may benefit from interfacing with a computer in a conversational manner. However, as we have already seen from demonstrations of Bing and Google's rival Bard chatbot (yes, for some reason they saw the need to compete on this), both easily got things wrong, meaning that nu-Bing could end up making you look like an idiot if you didn't fact-check it.
Speaking of idiots, I went even further out of my comfort zone in the process of researching (used in the loosest sense of the word possible) this article and actually asked a real-life Zoomer: "What are examples of 'Gen Z slang' that you legitimately use?"
Their response: "I don't use Gen Z slang, it just sounds like you're [offensive word for someone less advanced in mental, physical, or social development than is usual for one's age]."
So now we have another problem. Even Gen Z people find Gen Z slang insufferable, and if Gen Z slang makes you insufferable, what kind of imbecile is going to use rizz, bussin, fr, cap, ong, slay, bet, sus, vibing, glow-up, Stan, slaps, W, L, simp, tea in any environment outside the internet or their immediate peer group?
I'd ask Bing but don't actually care enough to have sought early access. If you want to see how nu-Bing will work and what it looks like, you can check the preview here. ®