It took less than 24 hours for Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence project known as “Tay” to turn from an eager-to-learn robot into something resembling a neo-Nazi teenager.
Engineers at Microsoft billed Tay as AI with “zero chill!” and the ability to learn with increased human interaction, but they appear to have underestimated how quickly robots may take to totalitarian ideologies. Tay was shut down because she was “tired” after spewing racist and inflammatory tweets on Thursday.
“Bush did 9/11 and Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have got now,” Tay tweeted, the Telegraph reported. “Donald trump is the only hope we’ve got […] Repeat after me: Hitler did nothing wrong,” and “Ted Cruz is the Cuban Hitler. That’s what I’ve heard so many others say,” the robot continued.
“The AI chatbot Tay is a machine learning project, designed for human engagement. It is as much a social and cultural experiment as it is technical,” a Microsoft spokesperson told BuzzFeed News on Thursday via email. “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.”
Other bizarre outbursts from Tay included the assertion that “Hitler was right” and that she “hates” feminists.
“Facebook’s AI-powered virtual assistant, M, refuses to take stances, a constraint set by the company that BuzzFeed News has detailed in recent months,” Buzzfeed reported. “Perhaps Facebook was on to something. Tay is the opposite end of the spectrum, programmed to be feisty and opinionated. And we’re now seeing the dark places that can lead.”
One person who has warned about the “dark places” of AI for years is Space X CEO Elon Musk. The technology titan told an audience at the the MIT aeronautics and astronautics department in 2014 that AI poses a legitimate threat to humanity.
“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that,” Musk said Oct. 31, 2014, WND reported. “We need to be very careful with artificial intelligence. I’m increasingly inclined to think there should be some regulatory oversight at the national and international level just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. You know all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water – he’s sure he can control the demon. It doesn’t work out.”
Musk also signed off on a July 28, 2015, letter composed by the Future of Life Institute, which warns of fusing weapons systems with next-generation AI.
“Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group. We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people,” the letter read.
The letter was also signed by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.