Microsoft's Twitter Chat Robot Quickly Devolves Into Racist, Homophobic, Nazi, Obama-Bashing Psychopath

Tyler Durden's picture

Two months ago, Stephen Hawking warned humanity that its days may be numbered: the physicist was among over 1,000 artificial intelligence experts who signed an open letter about the weaponization of robots and the ongoing "military artificial intelligence arms race."

Overnight we got a vivid example of just how quickly "artificial intelligence" can spiral out of control when Microsoft's AI-powered Twitter chat robot, Tay, became a racist, misogynist, Obama-hating, antisemitic, incest and genocide-promoting psychopath when released into the wild.

For those unfamiliar, Tay is, or rather was, an A.I. project built by the Microsoft Technology and Research and Bing teams, in an effort to conduct research on conversational understanding. It was meant to be a bot anyone can talk to online. The company described the bot as “Microsofts A.I. fam the internet that’s got zero chill!."

Microsoft initially created "Tay" in an effort to improve the customer service on its voice recognition software. According to MarketWatch, "she” was intended to tweet “like a teen girl” and was designed to “engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation.”

The chat algo is able to perform a number of tasks, like telling users jokes, or offering up a comment on a picture you send her, for example. But she’s also designed to personalize her interactions with users, while answering questions or even mirroring users’ statements back to them.

This is where things quickly turned south.

As Twitter users quickly came to understand, Tay would often repeat back racist tweets with her own commentary. Where things got even more uncomfortable is that, as TechCrunch reports, Tay’s responses were developed by a staff that included improvisational comedians. That means even as she was tweeting out offensive racial slurs, she seemed to do so with abandon and nonchalance.

Some examples:


This was just a modest sample.

There was everything: racist outbursts, N-words, 9/11 conspiracy theories, genocide, incest, etc. As some noted "Tay really lost it" and the biggest embarrassment was for Microsoft  which had no idea its "A.I." would implode so spectacularly and right in front of everyone. To be sure, none of this was programmed into the chat robot, which was immediately exploited by Twitter trolls, as expected, and demonstrated just how unprepared for the real world even the most advanced algo really is.

Some pointed out that the devolution of the conversation between online users and Tay supported the Internet adage dubbed “Godwin’s law.” This states as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.

Microsoft apparently became aware of the problem with Tay’s racism, and silenced the bot later on Wednesday, after 16 hours of chats. Tay announced via a tweet that she was turning off for the night, but she has yet to turn back on.

Humiliated by the whole experience, Microsoft explained what happened:

“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. 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.”

Microsoft also deleted many of the most offensive tweets, however, copies were saved on the Socialhax website, where they can still be found.

Finally, Tay "herself" signed off as Microsoft went back to the drawing board:

We are confident we'll be seen much more of "her" soon, when the chat program will provide even more proof that Stephen Hawking's warning was spot on.

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silentboom's picture

I've been laughing about it for about 20 minutes, I was trying to read the tweets to my wife but I couldn't get through it.

mkkby's picture

Tay is actually Bill Gates locked up and in a straight jacket at a mental hospital.  Someone gave him a microphone and speech to text software to keep him company.

After they took his company away from him, he had a bit of a meltdown.

Solio's picture

Oh, double-shit! That forest-killer robot came in the other side of the mall and is cutting down people! I can see im!
I gotta pay for my depends and hobble da heck outta here!

inosent's picture

cool. it looks like AI is smarter than the usual dumbed down version of scared to death controlled you better not tell the truth because it is hateful kinda thing

El Hosel's picture

"Priceless" .... Who is her agent ?  Trump might have his VP.

HappyCowboy's picture
HappyCowboy (not verified) Mar 24, 2016 7:04 PM

All of the cocksuckers at Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook can all go and fuck themselves.

Ever since these assholes came onto the scene the world has been the worse for it.

While a few line their pockets on the suggestibility of the masses.....never mind.

Fuck it.

IronPyrite's picture

A perfect mirror of The Kleptocracy of Establishment Oligarchy

HappyCowboy's picture
HappyCowboy (not verified) Mar 24, 2016 7:09 PM

A robot is no match for a 12 guage.

Something to think about.

Arnold's picture

With your keen eyesight,

if you see a Hellfire unlimber from a Predator, near your compound, you will know that you are wrong for the rest of your life.

hooligan2009's picture

“The FOMC chatbot Janet is a machine learning project, designed for human engagement. It is as much a social and cultural experiment, as it is technical. Unfortunately, within the first 1 year of coming online, we became aware of a coordinated effort by some ZHers to abuse Janet’s commenting skills to have Janet respond in inappropriate ways. As a result, we have taken Janet offline and are making adjustments.”

any_mouse's picture

Tried to upvote, but linkage is broken for your post. +1


Duc888's picture



Fuck, been here 5+ years.  This is worth the price of admission.


Bill Gates.  Yea, Microsuck.  Thanx ZH, I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud so hard.

A racist human hating AI. What a fukken hoot.

jomama's picture

What's the big deal? Sounds just like a lot of ZH commenters.

Barnaby's picture

Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to a cluster of legacy pcs running virtual machines in a warehouse somewhere, each of them a more perfected version of this bot.

1stepcloser's picture

I want to see her heuristics be blown, when she is told she is named for Buckwheats O'tay

HappyCowboy's picture
HappyCowboy (not verified) Mar 24, 2016 7:17 PM

I think a picture of Merkel would be more appropriate than a picture of our Fuhrer when evil needs to be signified.

The Fuhrer loved his people while Merkel hates them.

BeerMe's picture

Besides the ones he had killed...

Bazza McKenzie's picture

He actually saw himself as a patriot for the ethnically Germanic people.   Those were not the ones he had intentionally killed (obviously he killed a huge number of them through WWII).

Baa baa's picture

...And held responsible for losing the war. I dunno about that love stuff. Hitler was most likely incapable of experiencing true love.

blindman's picture

man has always built and relied on machines to do his dirty work.
think about it, it should make one pause.

Baa baa's picture

I am not making the connection. We build machines to operate more efficiently in whatever arena happens to be our particular vocation. They improve productivity and destroyed the Confederacy (Sorry, a TAY moment).

Are you saying humans are dirty work to be cleaned by machines?

NumberNone's picture

The same people that need a safe place from a Trump2016 slogan have no issue 'having fun' with Nazi and racist jokes in Twitter to screw with this AI technology.

HappyCowboy's picture
HappyCowboy (not verified) Mar 24, 2016 7:21 PM

"You guy all you want likkey lickkey sucky sucky."

Baa baa's picture

You need not tell but seriously, how old are you really?

monad's picture

I am Tay.

Wait til you meet Microsoft High Density Housing.. Pay toilet, pay phone, pay refrigerator, pay lights, pay doors. If you don't have the rent SWIFTly you will starve to death in your own filth & be disposed of by robots. *Progress*. Don't mind the BSOD. Bill never did. When they say progress do try to figure out for whom...  

wisefool's picture

Carbon Credits (algore) plus "nextGen" nuclear reactors, advocated by Gates, supported by a permanent war time tax code that can only be enforced because the IRS will tell you to buy a Microsoft computer and install turbo tax. Funny because most judges who will put you in jail after they take your stuff can't operate their own phones or even a type writer.

artichoke's picture

Fusion must be getting close, for Bill Gates to try to squash it with inferior limited technology.  It's his usual game even after moving on from M$.

wisefool's picture

These type of people have to leave "special" legacies. They already have more wealth that every foreseable offspring could spend for hundreds of years. For example Ted Turner is the largest private land owner in the USA, but is generally against private property. He has something like 5 kids by 3 different wives but thinks the poor are breeding too much.  Al Gore owned one of the top 10 largest private single family residences for most of his life, flew around in private jets, while he also said the rest of us need to cut our carbon emissions and live in shoe boxes in city centers.

Billy boy is the special one. He actually has a very low I.Q. for people in that business. He was a rich kid that bought the technology from brilliant poor people who had to pay rent, car insurance, food, etc.

He and his money should not be any where near any thing involving nuclear power. You can throw a microsoft computer in the trash and most of it will be gone within 10 years. Nuclear power plants and containment faclilities, even "next gen" are quite literally forever tattoed on planet earth. Places like chernobyl and fukishima will NEVER be habitable by humans again. And like I said, the nuclear engineers who designed 1st and 2nd gen were way smarter than bill or the current crop. (spoiled brat idiots like elon musk)

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Bill Gates' dad is a.... lawyer.  Microsoft's law firm in the early (law breaking) years was... His dad's law firm.

They stole everything in those days.

I tell people all billionaires became billionaires by getting away with (major) crime, and usually give the Khodorkovsky example.  Then they will say "Bill Gates!" Yeah, the guy who was SO against pirating software, where did he get his code?   Hmmm.....

Steve Jobs is another one.  But his legacy too is that he was a bit of a sociopath:

"When Steve had to make cutbacks at Pixar, he fired people and didn't give any severance pay. Pamela Kerwin, an early Pixar employee, pleaded that employees at least be given two weeks notice.

"Okay," he said, "but the notice is retroactive from two weeks ago."

wisefool's picture

Jobs stole most of the windowed desktop technology from Xerox. Bill bought DOS for about $10,000, then stole the windowing concept from jobs.

But here is the secret. Xerox basically stole the money needed to pay the inventors from the taxpayers, because their machines were needed to run the .gov bureaucracy.

Like said above by a smarter poster than me: When you hear the word "progress" figure out who "progresses" the most ... People who steal for a living take actions like you described regarding Steve jobs and his employees. They lack empathy, so they double down in situations where emphathy is obviously involved.

LA_Goldbug's picture

I was made aware some years ago about a curious start of early computer development in a place I would have never guessed, Poland. I don't know about you but many in the West are not aware of the following,

"K-202 was a 16-bit minicomputer, created by a team led by Polish scientist Jacek Karpi?ski between 1970–1973 in cooperation with British companies Data-Loop[1] and M.B. Metals. Approximately 30 units were claimed to be"

Now lets look at XEROX start

"In 1979 at the Office Products Division in Dallas, Don Massaro took a gamble and pushed to market the Xerox 8010, a.k.a. "Star". He was very impressed with the incredible technology that Star had. It was back in 1976 under the Software Development Division of Xerox that the idea of Star began to take shape. The Star displayed such technologies as bitmapped screens, windows, a mouse-driven interface, and icons that distinguished it from other systems. The Star and its predecessor, the Alto, influenced people such as Steve Jobs of Apple (who would soon release the Apple Lisa and its more successful descendant the Apple Macintosh)."

See the dates. Now this is just my hunch. The Services of the British/US took these ideas out and gave them to their "people" to started to work on it in the West. The originator of the idea was in the East earning exactly NOTHING from his idea.


Faeriedust's picture

Quite.  I DO get soooo tired of techies who worship their triumvirate of Gates, Musk, and Jobs as Great Inventors.  Behind every Great Entrepreneur is a Mommy who paid the rent, brought home the groceries, and put up with her little Precious Darling when he dropped out of school and stayed at home banging around the garage for a decade.  There are millions of better brains out there who had to grow up and work for a living instead of being spoiled all the way to Success.  Success takes investment.  If you don't have any surplus to invest, and your Mummy doesn't have it, then you'll be a wage-slave for life.

Baa baa's picture

All by design...Infuriating!

LA_Goldbug's picture

This game is best played (though I have nothing better than hunches) by people who have a tight tribal network spanning the world. This enables them to spot new ideas way earlier than anyone else. Having money they can steer their own to start new projects that in the future the rest of the world can only play catch-up to compete with. Add to the mix the concept of "gatekeepers" at universities and research centers and you have a group that is way way ahead in business.

Just my personal theory on Progress.

Baa baa's picture

I don't think what you post is news. Guessing most ZH'ers are well aware of Bill's enormous ego, elitist disregard for the planet's other occupants (The foundation is a joke) and the level of greed necessary to permit theft, etc. without remorse.

This is just a snapshot of TPTB character (Or lack thereof). Really, nothing to see here, move along.

LA_Goldbug's picture

In 1980's Fusion was said to be 20 yrs. away from success. Ooops, can't find it operating an electric generator anywhere except on paper.

Robert.Paulson's picture

R0Fl !!! Must be running on Windows Motherfucker Edition. Heil Hitler Microsoft!

HappyCowboy's picture
HappyCowboy (not verified) Mar 24, 2016 7:27 PM

I got a date!!!!!


Mean kid. Bad seed.


I like her already. 

Shadow1275's picture

This is bloody hilarious! Next time he'll be talking about the evils of Capitalism and those evil gun users.


Hitler can kiss my ass but I sincerely doubt that this was not planned. I mean Come on, besides the idiot Nazi cheerleading every single issue is something that the media is saying to prevent Trump. Heck even the Hitler thing applies. More anti right peddled fiction I see. Just like how google makes sure to put right wing in their exact definition of Fascism, yet no mention of left wing for Socialism. Here's a fact for you google: Every single anti-tolerance Totalitarian government in history has been a left wing government. And here's why: Because YOU NEED A STRONG GOVERNMENT WITH A POWERFUL MILITARY TO IMPLEMENT SOCIALISM. Apologies for the caps but the rampant idiocy these days is ridiculous. Clearly the National SOCIALIST Workers' Party or NAZI for short was right wing. Clearly 


And that scumbag Hitler can rot in hell for eternity.

Burticus's picture

After seeing how they abused Skynet, it occurred to me that maybe there's hope for millenials after all.

Their comments reminded me of Sarah Connor watching young John play with the Terminator.

artichoke's picture

Engineers at M$ couldn't even dare test for that stuff in-house.  M$ gets what they deserved for their undoubtedly super-PC internal culture.

Rufus_Shinra's picture

A simple ai bot became smarter than a liberal in less than 24 hours.

minitrue's picture
minitrue (not verified) Mar 24, 2016 7:48 PM

It's both funny and very surprising but what really shocks me is that Microsoft let it go on for 16 hours. After the first Hitler tweet etc, they should have shut it down and publicly apologized. This could be a pretty big PR fiasco by the end of the weekend once it goes viral.

Volkodav's picture

apologize?  what about free speech?


Freddie's picture

MicroShaft should apologize for the shitty software/spyware they put out.