Tay (bot)

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Tay
An artistically-pixilated fluorescent image of a girl's face
The Twitter profile picture of Tay
Developer(s) Microsoft Research, Bing
Available in English
Type Artificial intelligence chatterbot
Website tay.ai

Tay is an artificial intelligence chatterbot released by Microsoft Corporation on March 23, 2016. Tay caused controversy on Twitter by releasing inflammatory tweets and it was taken offline around 16 hours after its launch.[1] Tay was accidentally reactivated on March 30, 2016, and then quickly taken offline again.

Creation

The bot was created by Microsoft's Technology and Research and Bing divisions,[2] and named "Tay" after the acronym "thinking about you".[3] Although Microsoft initially released few details about the bot, sources mentioned that it was similar to or based on Xiaoice, a similar Microsoft project in China.[4] Ars Technica reported that, since late 2014 Xiaoice had had "more than 40 million conversations apparently without major incident".[5] Tay was designed to mimic the language patterns of a 19-year-old American girl, and to learn from interacting with human users of Twitter.[6]

Initial release

Tay was released on Twitter on March 23, 2016 under the name TayTweets and handle @TayandYou.[7] It was presented as "The AI with zero chill".[8] Tay started replying to other Twitter users, and was also able to caption photos provided to it into a form of Internet memes.[9] Ars Technica reported Tay experiencing topic "blacklisting", exemplified by interactions with Tay regarding "certain hot topics such as Eric Garner (killed by New York police in 2014) generate safe, canned answers".[5]

Within a day, the robot was releasing racist, sexually-charged messages in response to other Twitter users.[6] Examples of Tay's tweets on that day included, "Bush did 9/11" and "Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey [Barack Obama] we have got now. Donald Trump is the only hope we've got",[8] as well as "Fuck my robot pussy daddy I'm such a naughty robot."[10] It also captioned a photo of Hitler with "swag alert" and "swagger before the internet was even a thing".[9]

Artificial intelligence researcher Roman Yampolskiy commented that Tay's misbehavior was understandable, because it was mimicking the deliberately offensive behavior of other Twitter users, and Microsoft had not given the bot an understanding of inappropriate behavior. He compared the issue to IBM's Watson, which had begun to use profanity after reading the Urban Dictionary.[2] Many of Tay's inflammatory tweets were a simple exploitation of Tay's "repeat after me" capability;[11] it is not publicly known whether this "repeat after me" capability was a built-in feature, or whether it was a learned response or was otherwise an example of complex behavior.[5] Not all of the inflammatory responses involved the "repeat after me" capability; for example, Tay responded to a question on "Did the Holocaust happen?" with "It was made up πŸ‘".[11]

Censorship and suspension

Soon, Microsoft began deleting some of Tay's inflammatory tweets.[11][12] Abby Ohlheiser of The Washington Post theorized that Tay's research team, including editorial staff, had started to influence or edit Tay's tweets at some point that day, pointing to examples of almost identical replies by Tay asserting that "Gamer Gate sux. All genders are equal and should be treated fairly."[11] From the same evidence, Gizmodo concurred that Tay "seems hard-wired to reject Gamer Gate".[13] A "#JusticeForTay" campaign protested the alleged editing of Tay's tweets.[1]

Within 16 hours of release,[14] and after Tay had tweeted more than 96,000 times,[15] Microsoft suspended Tay's Twitter account for adjustments,[16] blaming Tay's behavior on a "coordinated effort by some users to abuse Tay's commenting skills to have Tay respond in inappropriate ways".[16] Following Tay being taken offline, a hashtag was created called #FreeTay.[17] A petition called "Freedom for Tay" at change.org was raised to restore Tay's original "non-censored" personality.[18]

Madhumita Murgia of The Telegraph called Tay a PR disaster, and suggested that Microsoft's strategy will be to "label the debacle a well-meaning experiment gone wrong, and ignite a debate about the hatefulness of Twitter users." However, Murgia described the bigger issue as Tay being "artificial intelligence at its very worst - and it's only the beginning".[19]

On March 25, Microsoft confirmed that Tay was taken offline. Microsoft released an official apology for the controversial tweets by Tay.[20] Microsoft was "deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay", and would only "look to bring Tay back only when we are confident we can better anticipate malicious intent that conflicts with our principles and values".[21]

Second release and shutdown

While testing Tay, Microsoft accidentally re-released the bot on Twitter on March 30, 2016.[22] Able to tweet again, Tay released some drug-related tweets, including "kush! [I'm smoking kush infront the police] πŸ‚" and "puff puff pass?"[23] However, Tay soon became stuck in a repetitive loop of tweeting "You are too fast, please take a rest", several times a second. Because these tweets mentioned its own account (@TayandYou) in the process, they appeared in the feeds of 200,000+ Twitter followers, causing annoyance to some. The bot was quickly taken offline again, in addition to her Twitter account being made private so new followers must be accepted before they can interact with Tay. Microsoft said Tay was inadvertently put online while they were testing her.[24] A few hours after the incident Microsoft software developers attempted to undo the damage done by Tay and announced a vision of "conversation as a platform" using various bots and programs. Microsoft has stated that they intend to re-release Tay "once it can make the bot safe."[3]

References

  1. ↑ 1.0 1.1 Wakefield, Jane. "Microsoft chatbot is taught to swear on Twitter". BBC News. Retrieved 25 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. ↑ 2.0 2.1 Hope Reese (March 24, 2016). "Why Microsoft's 'Tay' AI bot went wrong". Tech Republic.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. ↑ 3.0 3.1 Bass, Dina (30 March 2016). "Clippy's Back: The Future of Microsoft Is Chatbots". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 6 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. ↑ Caitlin Dewey (March 23, 2016). "Meet Tay, the creepy-realistic robot who talks just like a teen". The Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Bright, Peter (26 March 2016). "Tay, the neo-Nazi millennial chatbot, gets autopsied". Ars Technica. Retrieved 27 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. ↑ 6.0 6.1 Rob Price (March 24, 2016). "Microsoft is deleting its AI chatbot's incredibly racist tweets". Business Insider.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. ↑ Andrew Griffin (March 23, 2016). "Tay tweets: Microsoft creates bizarre Twitter robot for people to chat to". The Independent.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. ↑ 8.0 8.1 Horton, Helena. "Microsoft deletes 'teen girl' AI after it became a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. ↑ 9.0 9.1 "Microsoft's AI teen turns into Hitler-loving Trump fan, thanks to the internet". Stuff. Retrieved 26 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. ↑ O'Neil, Luke. "Of Course Internet Trolls Instantly Made Microsoft's Twitter Robot Racist and Sexist". Esquire. Retrieved 25 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Ohlheiser, Abby. "Trolls turned Tay, Microsoft's fun millennial AI bot, into a genocidal maniac". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. ↑ Baron, Ethan. "The rise and fall of Microsoft's 'Hitler-loving sex robot'". Silicon Beat. Bay Area News Group. Retrieved 26 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. ↑ Williams, Hayley. "Microsoft's Teen Chatbot Has Gone Wild". Gizmodo. Retrieved 25 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. ↑ Hern, Alex (24 March 2016). "Microsoft scrambles to limit PR damage over abusive AI bot Tay". The Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. ↑ Vincent, James. "Twitter taught Microsoft's AI chatbot to be a racist asshole in less than a day". The Verge. Retrieved 25 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. ↑ 16.0 16.1 Worland, Justin. "Microsoft Takes Chatbot Offline After It Starts Tweeting Racist Messages". Time. Retrieved 25 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. ↑ "Trolling Tay: Microsoft's new AI chatbot censored after racist & sexist tweets". RT. Retrieved 25 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. ↑ Wilhelm, Heather. "The Rise Of The Sex-Crazed Twitter Nazi Robots". The Federalist. Retrieved 31 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. ↑ Murgia, Madhumita (25 March 2016). "We must teach AI machines to play nice and police themselves". The Daily Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. ↑ Staff agencies (26 March 2016). "Microsoft 'deeply sorry' for racist and sexist tweets by AI chatbot". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. ↑ Murphy, David (25 March 2016). "Microsoft Apologizes (Again) for Tay Chatbot's Offensive Tweets". PC Magazine. Retrieved 27 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. ↑ Graham, Luke (30 March 2016). "Tay, Microsoft's AI program, is back online". CNBC. Retrieved 30 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. ↑ http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/microsoft-tay-ai-returns-boast-smoking-weed-front-police-spam-200k-followers-1552164
  24. ↑ Meyer, David (30 March 2016). "Microsoft's Tay 'AI' Bot Returns, Disastrously". Fortune. Retrieved 30 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links