Microsoft Forced to Apologise for Racist Twitter AI

© AFP/File Leon Neal
© AFP/File Leon Neal

Microsoft has issued an apology over their creation of an artificial intelligence program behind a Twitter account that began to post and retweet racist remarks.

The chatbot, named Tay, was designed to become more intelligent as users interacted with it; however, it quickly started imitating targeted trolling messages tweeted at it, claiming that “the holocaust was made up,” “the Jews did 9/11,” and “I f***ng hate feminists and they should all die and burn in hell.”

As a result, Tay was deactivated within 24 hours of its introduction.

But on Friday, Peter Lee, Microsofts Head of Research, said the company was “deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets” and has deactivated Tay’s Twitter account for the foreseeable future.

He added: “Tay is now offline and we’ll look to bring Tay back only when we are confident we can better anticipate malicious intent that conflicts with our principles and values.”

Originally designed to learn from its interactions with people on Twitter and develop an artificial intelligence, trolls took the opportunity to manipulate its system, eliciting the offensive remarks.

Lee admitted that the bot was vulnerable to user influence.

“Although we had prepared for many types of abuses of the system, we had made a critical oversight for this specific attack,” he said. “As a result, Tay tweeted wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images. We take full responsibility for not seeing this possibility ahead of time.”

Lee claimed his team will continue to develop the features of Al bots to prevent negative side effects in the future.

“We must enter each one with great caution and ultimately learn and improve, step by step, and to do this without offending people in the process,” he said. “We will remain steadfast in our efforts to learn from this and other experiences as we work toward contributing to an Internet that represents the best, not the worst, of humanity.”

Microsofts annual development conference, Build, takes place next week. Artificial intelligence is likely to be on the agenda.

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