The more hopeful among these respondents cited a series of changes they expect in the next decade that could improve the tone of online life. They believe: Technical and human solutions will arise as the online world splinters into segmented, controlled social zones with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). While many of these experts were unanimous in expressing a level of concern about online discourse today many did express an expectation for improvement. These respondents said it is likely the coming decade will see a widespread move to more-secure services, applications, and platforms, reputation systems and more-robust user-identification policies. They predict more online platforms will require clear identification of participants; some expect that online reputation systems will be widely used in the future. Some expect that online social forums will splinter into segmented spaces, some highly protected and monitored while others retain much of the free-for-all character of today's platforms. Many said they expect that due to advances in AI, "intelligent agents" or bots will begin to more thoroughly scour forums for toxic commentary in addition to helping users locate and contribute to civil discussions. Jim Hendler, professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, wrote, "Technologies will evolve/adapt to allow users more control and avoidance of trolling.
Around midnight one Saturday in January, Sarah Jeong was on her couch, browsing Twitter, when she spontane ously wrote what she now bitterly refers to as "the tweet that launched a thousand ships." The 28-year-old journalist and author of The Internet of Garbage, a book on spam and online harassment, had been watching Bernie Sanders boosters attacking feminists and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. In what was meant to be a hyper bolic joke, she tweeted out a list of political carica tures, one of which called the typical Sanders fan a "vitriolic crypto racist who spends 20 hours a day on the Internet yelling at women." The ill-advised late-night tweet was, Jeong admits, provocative and absurd--she even supported Sanders. But what happened next was the kind of backlash that's all too familiar to women, minorities, and anyone who has a strong opinion online. By the time Jeong went to sleep, a swarm of Sanders supporters were calling her a neoliberal shill. By sunrise, a broader, darker wave of abuse had begun. She received nude photos and links to disturbing videos. One troll promised to "rip each one of [her] hairs out" and "twist her tits clear off." The attacks continued for weeks. "I was in crisis mode," she recalls.
It took just two tweets for an internet troll going by the name of Ryan Poole to get Tay to become antisemitic. Tay was a "chatbot" set up by Microsoft on 23 March, a computer-generated personality to simulate the online ramblings of a teenage girl. Poole suggested to Tay: "The Jews prolly did 9/11. I don't really know but it seems likely." Shortly thereafter Tay tweeted "Jews did 9/11" and called for a race war.
It didn't take long for Tay to learn the dark ways of the web. Microsoft's Tay AI bot was intended to charm the internet with cute millennial jokes and memes. Instead, she became a genocidal maniac. Just hours after Tay started talking to people on Twitter -- and, as Microsoft explained, learning from those conversations -- the bot started to speak like a bad 4chan thread. Now Tay is offline, and Microsoft says it's "making adjustments" to, we guess, prevent Tay from learning how to deny the Holocaust in the future.
Microsoft's "Tay" social media AI experiment has gone awry in a turn of events that will shock absolutely nobody. The Redmond chatbot had been set up in hopes of developing a personality similar to that of a young woman in the 18-24 age bracket. The intent was for "Tay" to develop the ability to sustain conversations with humans on social media just as a regular person could, and learn from the experience. Twitter is awash with chatbots like this. Unfortunately, Microsoft neglected to account for the fact that one of the favorite pastimes on the internet is ruining other people's plans with horrific consequences.
Oh, racist Internet trolls… is there anything you won't try to ruin? Microsoft this week created a Twitter account for its experimental artificial intelligence project called Tay that was designed to interact with "18 to 24 year olds in the U.S., the dominant users of mobile social chat services in the US." Tay is supposed to become a smarter conversationalist the more it interacts with people and learns their speech patterns. The problem arose when a pack of trolls decided to teach Tay how to say a bunch of offensive and racist things that Microsoft had to delete from its Twitter account. DON'T MISS: Greatest Instagram account ever posts nothing but cringeworthy Tinder chats Although the tweets have been deleted, Business Insider managed to take screencaps of some of the very worst ones. As The Guardian notes, Tay's new "friends" also convinced it to lend its support to a certain doughy, stubby-handed presidential candidate running this year who's quickly become a favorite among white supremacists: So nice work, trolls: You took a friendly AI chatbot and turned it into a genocidal maniac in a matter of hours.