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MIT Technology Review

The Biggest Technology Failures of 2016

From algorithms that spread fake news to glowing plants that don’t glow, here are our picks for the worst technologies of the year.

December 27, 2016

Tay, the rogue chatbot

“helooooooo world!!!”  One Wednesday in March, Microsoft unveiled Tay, a female chatbot with its own Twitter account. Microsoft described Tay as a “machine learning project, designed for human engagement” which would converse with 18- to 24-year-olds, learn from them, and get smarter with time. Within 24 hours, however, Tay was bragging about smoking drugs, asking for sex, and opining that “Hitler was right …” and “feminists should … burn in hell.” Peter Lee, head of Microsoft Research, decommissioned the chatbot the next day. “We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay,” said Lee. “Tay is now offline.”