Note to Microsoft – this is not the time for your AI journos to make mistakes

Microsoft bots mix up Little Mix

Last week PC Guide reported on how Microsoft had culled several hundred journalists and replaced them with Artificial Intelligence for its news curation on MSN.com. Less than a week later, and in the midst of worldwide Black Lives Matter protests the service has been called out for confusing British girl-band Little Mix’s two mixed-race singers Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock.

Upon running a story about Jade’s personal reflections on racism, the bot chose to run it alongside a picture of Leigh-Anne.

Thirlwall tweeted,  “@MSN If you’re going to copy and paste articles from other accurate media outlets, you might want to make sure you’re using an image of the correct mixed-race member of the group. This s*** happens to @leighannepinnock and I ALL THE TIME that it’s become a running joke. It offends me that you couldn’t differentiate the two women of colour out of four members of a group … DO BETTER!”

There is no suggestion according to The Guardian in the UK, that Thirlwall was aware that Microsoft now ‘employs’ AI to curate its news from either news indexers and does not write its own stories and that AI had selected the image.

A Microsoft spokesman said:” As soon as we became aware of this issue, we immediately took action to resolve it and have replaced the incorrect image.”

We would assume that rather than the AI being “racist”, the image was probably tagged wrongly in the image library by a human editor, which certainly doesn’t make things any better.

What is also concerning is that The Guardian also reported: “In advance of the publication of this article, staff at MSN were told to expect a negative article in the Guardian about alleged racist bias in the artificial intelligence software that will soon take their jobs.

Because they are unable to stop the new robot editor selecting stories from external news sites such as The Guardian, the remaining human staff have been told to stay alert and delete a version of this article if the robot decides it is of interest and automatically publishes it on MSN.com. They have also been warned that even if they delete it, the robot editor may overrule them and attempt to publish it again.”

Staff have already had to delete coverage criticizing MSN for running the story about Little Mix with the wrong image after the AI software decided stories about the incident would interest MSN readers.

It’s a bit of a disaster for Microsoft on the PR front with Little Mix being such a huge girl band on the world stage and it seems that for some time yet they are going to have to keep the odd human face around the office to keep the computers in check.

You might like this

Also, who has Apple TV in stock right now!
All the important details for the first Windows 11 device
Microsoft's newest Surface device leaks ahead of reveal
Get ready to relive a golden era of air travel with one of the most recognizable planes of all time

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Managing Editor
at
PC guide
Been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision. Spent over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title. Has written tech content for GamePro, Official Australian Playstation Magazine, PlayStation Pro, Amiga Action, Mega Action, ST Action, GQ, Loaded, and the Daily Mirror. Twitter: @iampaulmcnally

Independent, transparent, rigorous and authentic, our reviews are the most thorough and honest in PC gaming. Learn about our review process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *