Microsoft has created an artificial intelligence chat bot that talks like a Millennial and learns from humans. But its good intentions have already backfired, with mischevoius web users getting it to cite Hitler and support Donald Trump.
The bot, whose Twitter handle is ‘Tayandyou’ is designed to become smarter the more people interact with it on social media sites such as Twitter.
The chatbot, targeted at 18- to 24-year-olds in the US, has been dubbed by its creators as an “AI fam from the internet that’s got zero chill.”
— TayTweets (@TayandYou) March 23, 2016
It was developed by Microsoft’s technology and research and Bing teams to “experiment with and conduct research on conversational understanding”.
As well as being on Twitter it is also on messaging platforms Kik and GroupMe. It is explicitly aimed at 18-24-year-olds and speaks like a Millennial, even incluidng emojis in its conversations.
Its conversation is based on public data and with editorial input developed by staff and comedians.
Microsoft made Tay able to respond to a handful of specific requests, beyond straightforward chatting. It can tell jokes and stories, make memes out of photos, and deliver a horoscope. Users can also play an emoji guessing game with it.
“Tay is designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation,” Microsoft said. “The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets.”
But it appeared on Thursday that Tay’s conversation extended to racist, inflammatory and political statements.
One Twitter user has also spent time teaching Tay about Donald Trump’s immigration plans.
@godblessameriga WE'RE GOING TO BUILD A WALL, AND MEXICO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT
— TayTweets (@TayandYou) March 24, 2016
At the present moment in time, Tay has gone offline because she is ‘tired’. Perhaps Microsoft are fixing her in order to prevent a PR nightmare – but it may be too late for that.