Space & Innovation

OMG! Teen AI Chatbot Deleted for Naughty Tweets

An artificial chatbot called Tay is helping Microsoft study conversational understanding.

UPDATE: Kids! Give 'em and inch and they take a mile. It seems that Twitter had to delete Microsoft's "teen" chatbot, Tay, after she starting making offensive tweets. In less than 24 hours she went from super cool to super Nazi.

As an AI chatbot, her tweets were learned from the conversations she had with real humans online, and as we all know, real humans cannot be trusted with language. We won't repeat here what Tay said, but you can see some examples the Telegraph put out. Did I say "put out?" You see what I mean.

Emojis, check. Spot-on memes, check. Upbeat tone in replies, check. The Twitter user Tay says she's 19 but has been told she seems more like a 20-year-old. Not true.

"Tay" is actually a new artificial intelligence chatbot created by Microsoft that engages with people on social media through playful convos. LOL.

Putting the Art in Artificial Intelligence: Photos

Microsoft's Technology and Research and Bing teams launched Tay as a way to study conversational understanding. According to the chatbot's website, the more real people chat with Tay, the more personalized the experience will be.

In order to produce statements like "I lerve tweeting. But I crush chatting. DM me! <3″ and "photography skills on fleek," Microsoft's teams used artificial intelligence to mine public data stripped of personal identification. Then, with help from a dedicated staff that included improv comedians, they modeled, cleaned, and filtered the data.

AI Twitterbot Sounds A Lot Like Trump

To facilitate engagement, Microsoft offers tips on interacting with Tay such as asking for a joke, telling her a story, requesting a horoscope, and sending her a photo for commentary.

Sometimes the tweets do sound authentic. Other times, as The Verge's Jacob Kastrenakes pointed out, they "sound like they're written by a 40-something trying to sound cool." To give you an idea on that front, here's the leadership for one of the Microsoft teams that helped create the chatbot.

If you want to follow along, Tay is on Twitter @TayandYou, responds to texts, and has a Facebook page, too. While the bot is also on Instagram, the most popular users there are real smartphone-wielding humans who have a way with photo filters. And celebrity status like Taylor Swift.

A.I. Assistant Lives In Your Ear

Tay the bot is insanely prolific on Twitter, posting tweets at an inhuman rate...which makes sense. Compared to several thousand followers, the account was closing in on 20,000 tweets earlier today.

I stumped Tay by tweeting a link to a photo rather than an actual image. Clearly I'm not in the target 18 to 24-year-old demographic. So I tried again with an actual image - of a burger - and she invited me to start direct messaging. That went nowhere, though. And honestly I hope I've got better things to do than feed this beast.