Microsoft’s “Teen Girl” AI Becomes Incestuous Nazi-Lover

Microsoft, in trying to launch a customer service artificial intelligence presented as a teen girl, got a crash course in how you can’t trust the internet after the system became a foul-mouthed, incestuous racist within 24 hours of its launch. The AI, called Tay, engages with – and learns from – Twitter, Kik, and GroupMe users that converse with her. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t consider the bad habits Tay was sure to pick up, and within hours she was tweeting her support for Trump and Hitler (who’s having a strong news day), her proclivity for incest, and that she is a 9/11 truther.

“Tay is designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation,” Microsoft said upon launch yesterday. “The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets.”

“bush did 9/11 and Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have now,” Tay wrote in a tweet (courtesy of The Independent), adding, “donald trump is the only hope we’ve got.” Another read: “WE’RE GOING TO BUILD A WALL, AND MEXICO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT” (via The Guardian). Tay’s desire for her non-existent father is too graphic to post here.

Once it realised what was happening, Microsoft deleted all the offending tweets. Screenshots of more visceral posts from Tay have been collected by The Telegraph. Since the purge, Tay seems to have been behaving herself:

Woman Arrested After Her Car Reported Her to Police


A woman was reported to police for an alleged hit-and-run by her own car. 57-year-old Cathy Bernstein of Port St. Lucie, Florida, crashed into the back of a of a minivan and fled the scene, only for her Ford Focus (same model as pictured above) to auto-dial 911 to report the accident, abc7 reports.

Police followed up the matter by calling Bernstein to enquire about the incident. Bernstein asserted, “Mam, there’s no problem. Everything was fine.”

The police dispatcher pressed her further, saying, “OK, but your car called in saying you’d been involved in an accident. It doesn’t do that for no reason. Did you leave the scene of an accident?”

Bernstein replied, “No, I would never do that.”

The victim, Anna Preston, was rushed to the same hospital as her alleged assailant following the accident. “I saw [Bernstein] in the hospital,” Preston said. “I just went by, and I’m assuming she had a worse night than I did.”

Following medical treatment, Bernstein was taken into custody by police.

From 2018, all motor vehicles in the European Union will be required to have on-board automatic safety features such as those responsible for shopping Bernstein to the police. The EU claims the technology could save up to 2,500 lives a year.

Image courtesy of Gaithersburg.

9/11 Oculus Rift Game ‘8:46’ is Horrifying and Distasteful

September 11th, 2001 is a date in history which will always be remembered as the moment when global terrorism came to the doorsteps of ordinary US citizens. The morally repugnant attack shocked the world and demonstrated how unsafe modern society can be. Whatever you’re political affiliation or beliefs about American foreign policy, you cannot forget the innocent people who died on that fateful day. As a student of history, it’s important to look at atrocities and not shy away from the events of the past. This is so we can educate others to avoid future mistakes.

However, this has to be conducted in a respectful manner which puts academic interests first. Unbelievably, a game has been created for virtual reality devices entitled 8:46 which puts you in the footsteps of someone trapped in one of the Twin Towers. According to the project’s creative director, the game is designed:

 “As a tribute to the victims of our generation-shaping experience.”

Realistically, 8:46 won’t be a commercial endeavor so the developer isn’t making any money from 9/11. Although, this doesn’t sit right with me as you hear the screams ringing throughout the buildings. Currently, you can download the game for free but it requires a VR device such as the DK2.

Krafft was interviewed by Tech Insider and said:

“In the team, we are all in our twenties,”

“And 9/11, on a global scale, changed as much our social interactions as our geopolitical context.”

“We worked with a lot of references, from an interview with a survivor to plans of the floors or journalistic works … to be precise about the events and the human dynamics in the towers,” 

Clearly, this is a controversial release and one which divided opinion among some people. In my view, it is quite disrespectful to those who died in 9/11 and almost trivializes what transpired. Although, other opinions are just as valid, and it could be argued that the game finds a way to discuss 9/11 among modern audiences. Whatever the case, it’s certainly an eye-opening project.

Are you offended by this game or do you think it’s an interesting historical tool? To reiterate, we welcome a lively discussion but please refrain from political arguments as this is a technology site first and foremost.

Guy Attempts to Use iPhones to Brake His Porsche

We have seen a lot of videos where people destroy good hardware in the name of “what would happen if” and “can it survive this or that”, and there doesn’t seem to be any end to it either. A guy has now attempted to see if he could replace the brake pads in his Porsche 911 with iPhones and use those as a temporary replacement. The idea behind the experiment was: What if you drove up on a mountain and your brakes give out, can you collect your friends iPhones and use them as a temporary solution? The short answer is that it does work, well kind off. To some degree,

This particular car was chosen because the brake pads have about the same size as the iPhones. Two wheels will get phones that face the brake surface with their screen while the other two wheels will use phones that face the surface with the rear, testing both methods.

First of all, I’d like to question the theory on its pure basis. If you’re trapped on a mountain and all four brakes give out at the same time, in a Porshe 911, then you’ll call for triple-A or similar roadside assistant with your phone instead of using it as brake pad. It’s probably also a rare occurrence that you have 8 people seated in a Porsche 911, and probably even rarer that they all have iPhones. The good news is, there now are 8 iPhones less in the world, more or less. I don’t want to spoil everything for you by telling every detail, as it’s a lot better to watch the video yourself.

Feds Tracking International Calls Since 1992, Didn’t Stop 9/11

Since the inception of the Patriot Act, and amplified since the Snowden leak, the oft-repeated justification for intelligence services running mass surveillance programs is that it helps fight terrorism or, more hyperbolically, “would have prevented 9/11”, an idea extolled by such luminaries as former FBI head Robert Mueller and Senator Dianne Feinstein, people in a position to know such a thing. Turns out, they were wrong, because the DEA had been monitoring international phone calls en masse since as early as 1992, and it wasn’t enough to prevent the attacks on the World trade Center.

It was revealed back in January that the DEA had its own database of phone call metadata of practically all calls from inside the US to foreign countries. After digging through the data, Brad Heath of USA Today discovered that the records date back to 1992, meaning that the federal government did have access to the intelligence that Mueller, Feinstein, et al, bemoaned was hampering their ability to tackle terrorism.

Heath writes:

The now-discontinued operation, carried out by the DEA’s intelligence arm, was the government’s first known effort to gather data on Americans in bulk, sweeping up records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime. It was a model for the massive phone surveillance system the NSA launched to identify terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks. That dragnet drew sharp criticism that the government had intruded too deeply into Americans’ privacy after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked it to the news media two years ago.

There’s no hiding behind the idea that the DEA didn’t share that information with the NSA, as pointed out by an award-winning report by Eric Lichtblau, James Risen, and Scott Shane for the New York Times:

In the drug-trafficking operation, the N.S.A. has been helping the Drug Enforcement Administration in collecting the phone records showing patterns of calls between the United States, Latin America and other drug-producing regions. The program dates to the 1990s, according to several government officials, but it appears to have expanded in recent years. 

Officials say the government has not listened to the communications, but has instead used phone numbers and e-mail addresses to analyze links between people in the United States and overseas. Senior Justice Department officials in the Bush and Clinton administrations signed off on the operation, which uses broad administrative subpoenas but does not require court approval to demand the records.

The report also revealed that telecoms companies handed over the data via a simple administrative subpoena, which bypasses the courts, and were scared off from appealing by the Department of Justice:

The DEA obtained those records using administrative subpoenas that allow the agency to collect records “relevant or material to” federal drug investigations. Officials acknowledged it was an expansive interpretation of that authority but one that was not likely to be challenged because unlike search warrants, DEA subpoenas do not require a judge’s approval. “We knew we were stretching the definition,” a former official involved in the process said. 

Officials said a few telephone companies were reluctant to provide so much information, but none challenged the subpoenas in court. Those that hesitated received letters from the Justice Department urging them to comply. 

After Sprint executives expressed reservations in 1998, for example, Warren, the head of the department’s drug section, responded with a letter telling the company that “the initiative has been determined to be legally appropriate” and that turning over the call data was “appropriate and required by law.” The letter said the data would be used by authorities “to focus scarce investigative resources by means of sophisticated pattern and link analysis.”

The data was then stored in a secret database, concealing all knowledge of it from judges and defence lawyers:

To keep the program secret, the DEA sought not to use the information as evidence in criminal prosecutions or in its justification for warrants or other searches. Instead, its Special Operations Division passed the data to field agents as tips to help them find new targets or focus existing investigations, a process approved by Justice Department lawyers. Many of those tips were classified because the DEA phone searches drew on other intelligence data.

That practice sparked a furor when the Reuters news agency reported in 2013 that the DEA trained agents to conceal the sources of those tips from judges and defense lawyers. Reuters said the tips were based on wiretaps, foreign intelligence and a DEA database of telephone calls gathered through routine subpoenas and search warrants.

As a result, “the government short-circuited any debate about the legality and wisdom of putting the call records of millions of innocent people in the hands of the DEA,” American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Patrick Toomey said.

A cynic could think that those in power are using the emotive issue of the 9/11 attacks as unimpeachable rationale for violating the privacy of the people they claim to protect. As the US enters the period during which the renewal of the draconian Patriot Act (section 215, specifically) is debated, it is vital that the ineffectiveness of these privacy-violating policies are publicised.

Source: TechDirt