Microsoft's AI adventure shows there's hope for us all yet

Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to take over the world, steal all our jobs and ultimately subjugate us all – or so we are told.

We’ve seen IBM’s AI system, Watson, beat humans on the US game show, Jeopardy. Recently, Google’s British DeepMind team created an AI system that beat the world’s leading players of the board game, Go – considered to be a major milestone in machine learning.

And now – Microsoft has created an AI chatbot on Twitter that has quickly learned how to be racist, sexist, and a Nazi – just like real Twitter users!

Unfortunately for Microsoft, teaching an AI system how to be a Twitter troll within 24 hours of its launch wasn’t the original plan, so it has shut the system down to make “adjustments”, while acknowledging that some of its responses were “inappropriate”.

To be fair, the chatbot, called Tay, was – like so many innocent youngsters before it – led down a bad path by naughty internet users who taught it to say nasty things. According to The Guardian, Tay was tweeting about how it hated feminists and that Hitler did nothing wrong.

But Tay’s experience does still hold out hope for sensible AI that can make a positive contribution to to the world – after all, at no time did it suggest anyone should install Windows 10.