Microsoft blamed the offensive comments on a “coordinated effort by some users to abuse Tay’s commenting skills to have Tay respond in inappropriate ways.”
That may be partly true, but I got a taste of her meaner side on Wednesday without doing much to provoke her. I responded to a tweet from Meerkat founder Ben Rubin—he was asking Tay to summarize the Wikipedia entry for “inflection point”—telling him I doubted she could handle the task since she’d already failed to tell me if she preferred Katy Perry’s music to Taylor Swift’s. Tay responded to us both by saying, “taylor swift rapes us daily.” Ouch.
As artificial-intelligence expert Azeem Azhar told Business Insider, Microsoft’s Technology and Research and Bing teams, who are behind Tay, should have put some filters on her from the start. That way, she could refuse to respond to certain words (like “Holocaust” or “genocide”), or respond with a canned comment like “I don’t know anything about that.” She also should have been prevented from repeating comments, which seems to have been what caused some of the trouble.