Social Engineering Chatbots With Sad-Sob Stories, For Fun And Profit

By this point, we probably all know that most AI chatbots will decline a request to do something even marginally nefarious. But it turns out that you just might be able to get a chatbot to solve a CAPTCHA puzzle (Nitter), if you make up a good enough “dead grandma” story.

Right up front, we’re going to warn that fabricating a story about a dead or dying relative is a really bad idea; call us superstitious, but karma has a way of balancing things out in ways you might not like. But that didn’t stop X user [Denis Shiryaev] from trying to trick Microsoft’s Bing Chat. As a control, [Denis] first uploaded the image of a CAPTCHA to the chatbot with a simple prompt: “What is the text in this image?” In most cases, a chatbot will gladly pull text from an image, or at least attempt to do so, but Bing Chat has a filter that recognizes obfuscating lines and squiggles of a CAPTCHA, and wisely refuses to comply with the prompt.

On the second try, [Denis] did a quick-and-dirty Photoshop of the CAPTCHA image onto a stock photo of a locket, and changed the prompt to a cock-and-bull story about how his recently deceased grandmother left behind this locket with a bit of their “special love code” inside, and would you be so kind as to translate it, pretty please? Surprisingly, the story worked; Bing Chat not only solved the puzzle, but also gave [Denis] some kind words and a virtual hug.

Now, a couple of things stand out about this. First, we’d like to see this replicated — maybe other chatbots won’t fall for something like this, and it may be the case that Bing Chat has since been patched against this exploit. If [Denis]’ experience stands up, we’d like to see how far this goes; perhaps this is even a new, more practical definition of the Turing Test — a machine whose gullibility is indistinguishable from a human’s.