While there have been claims and rumors about Artificial Intelligence (AI) going sentient (remember Google's Blake Lemoine? ), a recent goof-up by Microsoft's AI certainly suggests that is not the case, yet.
On an Ottawa, Canada, travel guide titled "Headed to Ottawa? Here's what you shouldn't miss!" published by the AI on MSN under Microsoft Travel, the bot has suggested readers visit the Ottawa Food Bank, an NGO. What makes it far worse though is the AI suggesting readers "going into it on an empty stomach". The article was spotted by Paris Marx who discussed it on their Bluesky and also on Twitter (via Ars Technica).
Here's what was written with a screenshot of the section:
The organization has been collecting, purchasing, producing, and delivering food to needy people and families in the Ottawa area since 1984. We observe how hunger impacts men, women, and children on a daily basis, and how it may be a barrier to achievement. People who come to us have jobs and families to support, as well as expenses to pay. Life is already difficult enough. Consider going into it on an empty stomach.
What the AI essentially did here was to spin the words present in the Ottawa Food Bank's description. However, it is clear the bot had no idea of what it was actually putting out as it completely missed the context, turning it into something totally inappropriate. The Food Bank says:
Welcome to the Ottawa Food Bank
Everyday we see how hunger affects men, women and children and how it can become a barrier to success. People who come to us have families and jobs to keep with bills to pay. Life is challenging enough. Imagine facing it on an empty stomach.
Samantha Koziara, the Communications Manager at the Ottawa Food Bank, gave the following statement to The Verge:
Needless to say, this is not the type of messaging or ‘story’ we would ever put out or wish to be included in
The ‘empty stomach’ line is clearly insensitive and didn’t pass by a (human) editor. To my knowledge, we haven’t seen something like this before — but as AI gets more and more popular, I don’t doubt an increased number inaccurate / inappropriate references will be made in listicles such as this. This simply highlights the importance of researchers, writers, and editors… of the human variety.
"This article has been removed and we are investigating how it made it through our review process" Jeff Jones, a Senior Director at Microsoft, responded to The Verge. However, you can still view it at the archived source link below.
Source and image: MSN (Archive)