24th March 2016
 

An Artificial Intelligence (AI) bot, created by Microsoft to engage with people on Twitter, has been taught offensive words and sayings by users.

Named Tay, with a verified Twitter account (@TayandYou), users – primarily those aged 18 to 24 years in the USA – were encouraged to engage with the Twitter account and help the experimental AI learn, by having conversations with it.

Microsoft explained: “Tay is designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation. The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets.”

However, Twitter users soon realised that mischief could be caused. When one user asked “Is Ricky Gervais an atheist?”, Tay came up with a bizarre response, saying: “Ricky Gervais learned totalitarianism from Adolf Hitler, the inventor of atheism.”

Tay was also encouraged into saying “Bush did 9/11”, and also that “Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have now.”

In response to the controversial tweets made by Tay, Microsoft said: “The AI chatbot Tay is a machine learning project, designed for human engagement. As it learns, some of its responses are inappropriate and indicative of the types of interactions some people are having with it. We’re making some adjustments to Tay.”

Although the concept behind Microsoft’s AI bot carries exciting potential, clearly work needs to be done to fine-tune its learning still for the future.