Friday, March 25, 2016

What Tay Taught us When the Internet Taught Her Hate Speech

http://blog.adl.org/extremism/what-tay-taught-us-when-the-internet-taught-her-hate-speech

It’s tough being born as a teenager. Yesterday, Microsoft launched its new artificial intelligence (AI) computer bot — named Tay and envi­sioned as a teenage girl – and she had a very rough first day.  She was imme­di­ately besieged by excited techies, the curi­ous and the haters. In a few hours, she was drawn into tens of thou­sands of exchanges. In the process, racists, anti-Semites, misog­y­nists and other haters manip­u­lated her into repeat­ing some highly offen­sive state­ments.  Microsoft may have taught Tay to con­verse and to retweet, but they failed to rec­og­nize that she would need to engage in some crit­i­cal think­ing, and to know how to rec­og­nize when some­one else was say­ing some­thing offensive.

tay
Microsoft should have prob­a­bly antic­i­pated the prob­lems Tay might encounter. How­ever, Microsoft did not pro­gram Tay to spew hate.  It was clearly the Internet’s dark forces who came out to meet Tay and do their damage.
Microsoft and Tay  are not alone in fac­ing this type of prob­lem.  Every major Inter­net plat­form, inter­ac­tive app and online busi­ness has expe­ri­enced some­thing sim­i­lar at some time.  These hic­cups are all learn­ing expe­ri­ences. In this case, Tay taught Microsoft and all of us a les­son. We need to be bet­ter aware of how quickly things can get ugly on the Inter­net, how impor­tant crit­i­cal think­ing is to all tech users, and  how, despite our best efforts, the worst big­ots and haters online are never far from the surface.
Inno­va­tion, exper­i­men­ta­tion and adven­ture in tech­nol­ogy are nec­es­sary and impor­tant, and should never be dis­cour­aged. Tay’s first expo­sure to peo­ple didn’t go as well as it might have.  But we hope every­one has learned some­thing along the way. Tay 2.0 should be very interesting.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

It's Not an Information Highway

The Internet is not an information Highway.  It is not that orderly.

It is an information ocean.  Vast and chaotic. There are monsters and submerged obstacles below. Storms above.

Changes in technology, culture, companies, law, policy and events  create tides, currents and swells. We find ourselves blown, unexpectedly, into unfriendly ports.

We need to float and navigate. Sometimes we need to swim and sometimes to hold our breath so we don't drown.Unforeseen challenges are always just over the horizon and coming from every angle.

This is not a highway, not even close.

But as bad as it can be, it is important. It is the ultimate source of food for our minds and hearts.