Smart assistants are designed to tackle a whole host of everyday tasks, but some users are unhappy that this seems to include taking a stand on political issues. Amazon's Alexa has come under fire on social media thanks to the AI-powered speaker's thoughts on a number of hot button topics. Some have branded Alexa a'social justice warrior' because of her responses to questions on subjects ranging from feminism to the Black Lives Matter movement. Smart assistants are designed to tackle a whole host of everyday tasks but some users are unhappy that this seems to include taking a stand on political issues. Amazon's Alexa has come under fire thanks to the AI powered speaker's thoughts on a number of hot button topics The response has been particularly vociferous among the alt-right community on social media.
The underlying API used to determine "toxicity" scores phrases like "I am a gay black woman" as 87 percent toxicity, and phrases like "I am a man" as the least toxic. To broadly determine what is and isn't toxic, Disqus uses the Perspective API--software from Alphabet's Jigsaw division that plugs into its system. Pasting her "Dear white people" into Perspective's API got a score of 61 percent toxicity. It's possible that the tool is seeking out comments with terms like black, gay, and woman as high potential for being abusive or negative, but that would make Perspective an expensive, overkill wrapper for the equivalent of using Command-F to demonize words that some people might find upsetting.
The Anti-Defamation League hasn't been shy about its condemnation of Breitbart News, an outlet it calls the "premiere website" for the "loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists" it claims constitutes the so-called "alt-right" movement. So it came as a bit of a shock recently when the Jewish rights group discovered that it happened to number among the site's advertisers. The ADL wasn't the only one; As Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon's new White House gig brought renewed media attention to the agitative far-right site's less savory tendencies, Kellogg, Warby Parker, U.S. Bank and several other major brands also found that they had been unwittingly supporting it with their ad dollars. "We regularly work with our media buying partners to ensure our ads do not appear on sites that aren't aligned with our values as a company," a Kellogg spokesperson said at the time. "As you can imagine, there is a very large volume of websites, so occasionally something is inadvertently missed."