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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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Now Pay Bills on Amazon Pay While Speaking to Alexa

Once approved, Alexa will complete the transaction using Amazon Pay, and send a notification to the customer's registered mobile phone number, confirming the transaction

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Alexa
The integration of Amazon Pay with Alexa will help reduce both time and effort for customers who use Amazon Pay for bill payments and repeat similar transactions every month. Pixabay

In an India-first feature, Amazon on Wednesday announced that users can now pay their utility bills with Amazon Pay just by speaking to its digital assistant Alexa in the country.

The new Alexa feature supports payment of bills across categories such as electricity, water, post-paid mobile, cooking gas, broadband, DTH and more.

Users of Amazon Echo, Fire TV Stick and other devices with Alexa built-in, can just give commands such as “Alexa, pay my mobile bill” or “Alexa, pay my electricity bill” to get started.

“The integration of Amazon Pay with Alexa will help reduce both time and effort for customers who use Amazon Pay for bill payments and repeat similar transactions every month.

“We are excited to share that this is an India-first feature which Alexa customers in India can enjoy before any other international customers,” Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager for Alexa Experiences and Devices, said in a statement.

Alexa
The new Alexa feature supports payment of bills across categories such as electricity, water, post-paid mobile, cooking gas, broadband, DTH and more for Amazon Pay. Pixabay

Alexa will retrieve the amount due for bills from their registered Amazon account and ask for customer confirmation before processing the payment. Customers can enable a voice pin on the Alexa app to make transactions more secure.

Once approved, Alexa will complete the transaction using Amazon Pay, and send a notification to the customer’s registered mobile phone number, confirming the transaction.

ALSO READ: Indian Army to Use New System of Digitised Records of Officers

Alexa will also send a link to register their bill details on the Amazon shopping app before proceeding for the payment, said the company. (IANS)