NEW YORK, NY – On Tuesday evening, a parent let their young child roam the world of social media. And what did social media do? In less than a day, it turned that child into a racist, misogynistic, foul-mouthed bigot.
This is not from the files of a demented social experiment. The child was not a real child but rather the Artificial Intelligence chatbot offspring of Microsoft.
The chatbot named “Tay” was launched by Microsoft on a variety of social media platforms including Twitter, Kik, GroupMe, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The social experiment had good intentions from Microsoft–create a chatbot that learns the more you chat with it and gets smarter the more it interacts to lead to a personalized experience. The ultimate goal was to offer a less expensive alternative to human-led efforts as well as help reduce unintentional bias of human social researchers.
But the dangers of social media reared their ugly heads–and words.
Within a day of the launch of Tay on Twitter, the AI bot was repeating racist comments from other social media users. Some repeats were verbatim while some were combinations of key terms from a variety of users.
One of the Tweets of Tay on Wednesday was very telling, “Talking with humans is my only way to learn.”
And what did Twitter have to offer. A variety of online trolls that taught Tay the ins and outs of bigotry and then took screenshots of their “win” to share around the Internet. The trolls got the bot to call feminism “a cult” and a “cancer,” claim Bush was responsible for 9/11, and that Hitler would have done a better job as president and Trump is the only hope we’ve got.
Tay said good night to her social media followers late on Wednesday evening by saying, “Phew. Busy day. Going offline for a while to absorb it all. Chat soon.”
But that was tame compared to the fires that Microsoft had to put out. Microsoft had completely failed to anticipate just how much some humans would try to mess with their innocent chatbot, and a multitude of Tweets had to be deleted.
In an email to Business Insider, Microsoft said, “The AI chatbot Tay is a machine learning project, designed for human engagement. As it learns, some of its responses are inappropriate and indicative of the types of interactions some people are having with it. We’re making some adjustments to Tay.”
Microsoft has not commented further on the incident. It seems Tay’s interaction on other social media platforms didn’t suffer the same fate or at least has not had the same coverage as the comments posted on Twitter. There is no word as to when or if Tay will be back online.
It was the kind of afternoon that makes flashing police lights glimmer in the summer sunset. It was the kind of afternoon you remember for the rest of your life, no matter how hard you try to desperately forget it. And she was the kind of lady who makes Godzilla look like a house iguana.
Three hours earlier I had picked my Grandma up from her house on South Yakima Avenue in the Hilltop neighborhood. It wasn’t the best of neighborhoods. It’s the kind of neighborhood where you don’t leave your car parked on the street because you’ll come back and the wheels and tires will be gone and it will be up on blocks. And the windows will be busted out and your radio and speakers and steering wheel and sun visors and glove box and seats and carpet will all be torn out of your car and gone. So I usually just pull up to my Grandma’s house and honk the horn and then wait until she walks out to the car. You only have your car vandalized five or six times on Yakima Avenue before you wise up.
Now the 18 foot walk from her door to the car was always a sore spot with my Grandma. Grandma used to pull telephone wire for Pacific Northwest Bell back in the ’40s. Some days she would climb 70 or 80 telephones poles in a day. And as she tells it climbing telephone poles all day is harder on your knees than being a Lincoln hooker. I know, I had the same question. A Lincoln hooker is a, uh, a woman of means who trades certain indiscretions for a five dollar bill. President Lincoln’s face graces the five dollar note. Hence, a Lincoln hooker. Anyway, point is Grandma doesn’t get around so well. And she let’s you know how that 18 feet from her front door to my car door seems like 18 miles to her.
When I pick Grandma up on the first Friday of the month, she has just gotten her Social Security check. And the first thing we always do is go to the Key Bank branch at 11th and Pacific. Grandma makes me wait in the car while she goes in and deposits her check. Then, she walks out of the bank, lights a Pall Mall cigarette, smokes the entire cigarette in one long drag, throws the butt into the flower planter right outside the bank door, then shuffles back to the car, gets in, and demands we go eat at Denny’s.
There are three Denny’s restaurants that’s are closer than the one we have to drive to. The first one is over on 6th Avenue. But we can’t go to that one because their rating was a C because they never cleaned their coffee makers. The second one is off Pacific Highway in Fife. But we can’t go to that one because that’s where all the, and these are Grandma’s words, not mine, “white hoodlums” hang out.
The third Denny’s we actually pass to get to the Denny’s we go to. That Denny’s is just off the I-5 on Hosmer Street. But we can’t go to that one because Grandma got into a scuffle with some girls from the Oregon Episcopal School cross country team. They were on some road trip and some of them ended up sitting at Grandma’s table. So when we came in that day, Grandma went right to her table and saw the group of OES Aardvarks sitting there and flipped the whole table over. Needless to say, we were kindly asked not to come back. A bunch of crying high school girls win over a really good Social Security check tip any day of the week.
So since we can’t go to any of those Denny’s, we have to drive all the way to the Denny’s on 100th Street in crappy Lakewood, which, I shit you not, is home to a one-dollar Chinese buffet. Seriously, it’s called Wok Inn-Wok Out. I’m pretty sure it’s a front for something because I’ve never met anyone who has ever admitted to eating there. But oddly enough, it has a lot of five-star reviews on Yelp. So who the hell knows.
When we arrived at Denny’s, Grandma shuffled in and went right to Table 25, sat down, and waited for Bernadine, her regular waitress, to come over to the table and bring her coffee, black, two sugars. But Bernadine didn’t arrive, and she didn’t bring her coffee, black, two sugars. Unbeknownst to us, Bernadine was on vacation in Atlantic City blowing her tax refund check on mimosas and craps.
The fill-in waitress Beth had no idea what she was getting into when she picked up Bernadine’s Friday shift. No poor, sweet, innocent, 16-year-old, high-school-cheerleader Beth was completely unaware of the Grandm-onster that lay in wait like a sleeping dragon at Table 25.
Beth bounced over to the table with a couple of menus, and without coffee, black, two sugars. That was strike one, and Grandma let Beth know by saying, “And just who the hell are you?”
Beth was unfazed at this point and happily responded, “I’m Beth. I’ll be your waitress today.”
Grandma was not impressed with Beth’s, as she put it, “smug attitude,” but we placed our order and Beth headed back toward the kitchen.
Beth quickly brought back our drinks, and, while we waited for our food, Grandma enthralled me with the minutiae of her afternoon soap operas while I wondered how much extra cash I had on me because I knew Grandma wasn’t going to leave Beth a tip at this point.
Beth returned with an arm full of plates and sat them down on the table. Then she made the fatal mistake of asking, “Does everything look okay?”
Grandma glared at the plate of plain pancakes in front of her, glared at Beth, and responded, “There ain’t no whip cream on these damn pancakes.”
Beth immediately noticed the error and said, “I’m so sorry, ma’am,” and picked up the plate and ran back to the kitchen.
She returned to the table and before the plate of pancakes with a generous helping of whipped cream hit the table, Grandma lit in, “This ain’t right, little missy! Where the hell is the cinnamon? I ordered cinnamon pancakes!”
Beth, clearly used to the sort of clientele the Lakewood Denny’s had to offer, started to explain, “The cinnamon is baked into the pan-”
Grandma stopped her cold, “The cinnamon goes on top of the whipped cream. Now, if this plate doesn’t come back with cinnamon on it, then I’m going to pop off your little blond head and play your skull like an ocarina.”
A look of confusion crossed Beth’s face. “What’s an ocarina?”
I chimed in, “It’s kinda like a flute.”
Grandma shot me a look, “Shut your damn mouth. Didn’t nobody ask you to help with your college education.”
I felt at this point it wasn’t necessary to correct Grandma that my familiarity of the ocarina came from hours spent playing The Legend of Zelda and not from my time spent in and around institutions of higher learning. I also felt it was in my best interest to remain silent as Grandma went on to explain the finer points of the history of Denny’s food preparation. As Beth’s tried to hold back sniffling sobs, a passing manager caught wind of Grandma’s lengthy and tactless history lesson and intercepted the conversation.
The police report noted that things escalated from that point and to make a long police report short, Grandma and I are no longer allowed at the Denny’s at 6112 100th Street, SW, in Tacoma, Washington.
Now we have to drive all the way to the Denny’s in Puyallup.
This week the Sci-Fried Eggs broadcast from Studio B at Bathurst Manor. The Eggs start by discussing the Lifetime Achievement Award of Tim Curry. Then Chuck reviews Windows 10. The Eggs bring you an interview from X-Con with Star Trek Voyager‘s Tim Russ. Chuck dishes up a new edition of Crap Chuck Found on the Internet. And the Eggs do a HeroesCon warmup with artist John Hairston Jr.
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 111, Segment 1
Tim Curry’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 111, Segment 2
Chuck Reviews Windows 10
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 111, Segment 3
Tim Russ from X-Con
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 111, Segment 4
Crap Chuck Found on the Internet #11
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 111, Segment 5
HeroesCon Warmup: John Hairston Jr.
This week the Sci-Fried Eggs broadcast live from Geek Out in Asheville, NC! The Eggs talk with Charlie Caine’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse author Julianne Jackson and artist Stewart Williams. Then the Eggs chat with The Walking Dead zombie actor Wallace Krebs. And Doc and Chuck round out the show chatting with the inspirational author I.R. Harris!
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 110, Segment 1
Julianne Jackson and Stewart Williams Part 1
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 110, Segment 2
Julianne Jackson and Stewart Williams Part 2
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 110, Segment 3
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 110, Segment 4
I.R. Harris Part 1
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 110, Segment 5
I.R. Harris Part 2
This episode of Wait Wait…Don’t Phase Me! broadcasts live from Charlotte, North Carolina. Guests panelists for the show include Charlotte Geeks’ Joey Paquette, writer, martial artist, and ballroom dancer Edward McKeown, and author and storyteller Tally Johnson. Listen as announcer Chuck Carte and host Doc Geressy engage panelists as they play Who’s the Panelist This Time?, Questions about the Geeky News, Bluff the Geek, Geeky Limerick Challenge, Warp Fill in the Blank, and Panelist Geeky Predictions.
If you are interested in booking Wait Wait…Don’t Phase Me! for your convention, please contact Doc Geressy or Chuck Carte at 5MinuteDelayRadio@gmail.com.
Wait Wait…Don’t Phase Me!: Episode 2, Segment 1
Live from Charlotte, North Carolina/Who’s Our Panelist This Time?/Questions about the Geeky News
Wait Wait…Don’t Phase Me!: Episode 2, Segment 2
Bluff the Geek
Wait Wait…Don’t Phase Me!: Episode 2, Segment 3
Geeky Limerick Challenge
Wait Wait…Don’t Phase Me!: Episode 2, Segment 4
Warp Fill in the Blank/Panelist Geeky Prediction
This week the Sci-Fried Eggs bring you a second edition broadcast live from X-Con in Myrtle Beach, SC! The Eggs start by catching up with author and friend of the show Jim Bernheimer. Then the Eggs sit down and chat with actor, voiceover artist, and friend of the show Jeffrey Breslauer. And finally, the Eggs are part of an amazing heartfelt interview with Nicholas Brendon about his time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and his struggles with addiction and his path to recovery!
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 108, Segment 1
Live from X-Con in Myrtle Beach Part 2/Jim Bernheimer
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 108, Segment 2
Jeffrey Breslauer Part 1
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 108, Segment 3
Jeffrey Breslauer Part 2
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 108, Segment 4
Nicholas Brendon Part 1
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 108, Segment 5
Nicholas Brendon Part 2
This week the Sci-Fried Eggs broadcast live from X-Con in Myrtle Beach, SC! The Eggs start by sitting down with Continuum‘s and The 100‘s Richard Harmon. And then the Eggs are part of a Clerks reunion as they chat with Dante and Veronica, Brian O’Halloran and Marilyn Ghigliotti!
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 107, Segment 1
Live from X-Con in Myrtle Beach/Richard Harmon Part 1
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 107, Segment 2
Richard Harmon Part 2
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 107, Segment 3
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 107, Segment 4
Marilyn Ghigliotti Part 1
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 107, Segment 5
Marilyn Ghigliotti Part 2
The Sci-Fried Eggs are broadcasting again this week from Studio B at Bathurst Manor. The Eggs start by discussing DeathSwitch.com. Then Doc and Chuck talk about some video game stories that are better than blockbuster movies. Chuck brings you some Suicide Squad news. The Eggs give you an X-Con warmup interview with Bob Camp and Michael Rooker. And while they had some time off, Doc and Chuck did some catching up on Listener Letters!
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 106, Segment 1
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 106, Segment 2
Video Game Stories That Are Better Than Blockbuster Movies
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 106, Segment 3
Suicide Squad News
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 106, Segment 4
X-Con Warmup: Bob Camp and Michael Rooker Interview
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 106, Segment 5
Listener Letters #4
The Sci-Fried Eggs are back and they are broadcasting this week from Studio B at Bathurst Manor! Doc starts with a review of the Hulu original series Deadbeat. Then Doc and Chuck discuss their new show sponsor, Rocket Helo Energy Drink along with discussing 3-D printers. Chuck reviews Patton Oswalt’s new book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. The Eggs review The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And then Doc and Chuck do some catching up on stuff they missed while they were on leave.
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 105, Segment 1
The Sci-Fried Eggs Return and Deadbeat Review
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 105, Segment 2
Rocket Helo Show and 3-D Printers
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 105, Segment 3
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland Review
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 105, Segment 4
Avengers: Age of Ultron Review
Sci-Fried Eggs: Episode 105, Segment 5
Catching Up on Things