The Rise and Fall of Microsoft’s Robo Bigot

Follow-Up | Dow Indicator | Preview Naughty: Microsoft’s self-learning Twitter bot Tay wrote 96,000 tweets in 16 hours, some denying the Holocaust. Illo: William Waitzman for Barron’s It has been a rough few weeks for robots. In mid-February, Google threw its self-driving car under the bus, and not just metaphorically. Google blamed one of its cars for hitting a public bus, the first time the company accepted responsibility for a self-driving crash. Then, after revealing its latest biped robot, Google decided to sell its Boston Dynamics robotics unit. To cap it off, Microsoft last week pulled the plug on Tay, its self-learning Twitter bot, which the company created to show off its prowess in artificial intelligence. The project backfired. In a Frankensteinian fit, the bot wrote 96,000 tweets in 16…

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