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Microsoft shuts AI-bot after twitteratti teaches it racism

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Microsoft does not offer free meals but subsidises the food.
Microsoft does not offer free meals but subsidises the food. Wikimedia Commons

Racism is the never ending issue and the latest victim is Microsoft, which launched artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bot on Twitter for a playful chat with people, only to silence it within 24 hours as users started sharing racist and offensive comments with the bot.

Launched on Twitter as an experiment in “conversational understanding” and to engage people through “casual and playful conversation”, Tay was soon bombarded with racial comments and the innocent bot repeated those comments back with her commentary to users, TechCrunch reported on Friday.

Some of the tweets had Tay referring to Adolf Hitler, denying the Holocaust, supporting Donald Trump’s immigration plans, among others.

Later, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the company is taking Tay off Twitter as people were posting abusive comments to her.

“The AI chatbot Tay is a machine learning project, designed for human engagement.

Unfortunately, within the first 24 hours of coming online, we became aware of a coordinated effort by some users to abuse Tay’s commenting skills to have Tay respond in inappropriate ways. As a result, we have taken Tay offline and are making adjustments,” the spokesperson said.

Tay — an AI project built by the Microsoft Technology and Research and Bing teams — was coded with information which can tell users jokes or offer up a comment on a picture you send her.

The bot is also designed to personalise her interactions with users.

But Twitter users soon understood that Tay will repeat back racist tweets with her own commentary and they bombarded her with abusive posts.

Microsoft has since deleted some of the most damaging tweets from nearly the 96,000 that Tay tweeted.

However, a website called Socialhax.com made screenshots of several of Tay’s comments before they were removed.

To a question “is Ricky Gervais an atheist?” Tay replied: “Ricky Gervais learned totalitarianism from Adolf Hitler, the inventor of atheism.”

Soon, Tay was seen referring to feminism as a “cult” and a “cancer”, as well as noting “gender equality feminism” and “I love feminism now.” (IANS)

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Microsoft Extends Education Push With Acquisition of Flipgrid, a Student Video Discussion Platform

Microsoft buys student video discussion platform Flipgrid

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Microsoft Extends Education Push With Acquisition of Flipgrid, a Student Video Discussion Platform
Microsoft Extends Education Push With Acquisition of Flipgrid, a Student Video Discussion Platform. Pixabay

As part of its attempt to win over students and educators, Microsoft has acquired video discussion platform Flipgrid which is used by more than 20 million teachers and students across the world.

“Thrilled to welcome @Flipgrid to Microsoft!” Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, tweeted on Monday.

“To bring the power of video-based social learning to everyone, we’ll be making Flipgrid free for all educators and offering prorated refunds to everyone who has purchased a subscription from Flipgrid in the last year,” said Eran Megiddo, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Education.

Representational image.
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

Flipgrid was created with the aim of helping educators recast the role of video in the classroom, from a passive experience to a tool that empowers and amplifies every student’s voice.

“Fans of Flipgrid can rest assured the Flipgrid they know and love, in joining Microsoft, will continue to grow and thrive across the Microsoft, Google and partner ecosystems, all the while retaining its distinct brand, culture and team,” Megiddo added.

Also Read: Microsoft’s Android Launcher Now Lets You Track Your Kid’s Location and App Usage

For Microsoft, which is facing increased competition in the classroom from both Apple and Google in recent years, the acquisition of Flipgrid is the latest in its effort to appeal to students and teachers, The Verge reported.

Microsoft has been improving its Office 365 for education offerings, and also overhauling its web versions of Office to be more modern and faster to use for collaboration, the report added. (IANS)