In the span of 15 hours Tay referred to feminism as a "cult" and a "cancer," as well as noting "gender equality = feminism" and "i love feminism now." Tweeting "Bruce Jenner" at the bot got similar mixed response, ranging from "caitlyn jenner is a hero & is a stunning, beautiful woman!
Searching through Tay's tweets (more than 96,000 of them!
) we can see that many of the bot's nastiest utterances have simply been the result of copying users.
If you tell Tay to "repeat after me," it will — allowing anybody to put words in the chatbot's mouth.
It took less than 24 hours for Twitter to corrupt an innocent AI chatbot.
Yesterday, Microsoft unveiled Tay — a Twitter bot that the company described as an experiment in "conversational understanding." The more you chat with Tay, said Microsoft, the smarter it gets, learning to engage people through "casual and playful conversation." Unfortunately, the conversations didn't stay playful for long.
Pretty soon after Tay launched, people starting tweeting the bot with all sorts of misogynistic, racist, and Donald Trumpist remarks.
And Tay — being essentially a robot parrot with an internet connection — started repeating these sentiments back to users, proving correct that old programming adage: flaming garbage pile in, flaming garbage pile out.
However, some of its weirder utterances have come out unprompted.
The Guardian picked out a (now deleted) example when Tay was having an unremarkable conversation with one user (sample tweet: "new phone who dis?
"), before it replied to the question "is Ricky Gervais an atheist?
" by saying: "ricky gervais learned totalitarianism from adolf hitler, the inventor of atheism." But while it seems that some of the bad stuff Tay is being told is sinking in, it's not like the bot has a coherent ideology.