Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

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.

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.”

Be there when AI pioneers take center stage at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Print Subscription.
  • Print Subscription {! insider.prices.print_only !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six print issues per year plus The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Print magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.