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Microsoft Tries to Understand the Youths With Bot That Tweets Like a Teen

No, this is not a joke—well, not intentionally.


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When most companies try to understand the youths, it’s for marketing purposes, but Microsoft wants to try to improve AI’s understanding of complex speech … and probably also do some marketing. To that end, they’ve launched Tay, a chatbot designed to use only the most modern of parlance.

On the up side, if you had anything against recent developments in language, there’s every possibility that this will be the moment they stop being cool. Just have a look at how Tay is described on the site that launched alongside it: “A.I. fam from the internet that’s got zero chill.” On the other hand, it certainly does seem like there’s room for Microsoft to expand its understanding of the nuance of the evolution of language.

Tay not only chats with you but will play Emoji Pop with you and comment on pictures you send, as well. Here’s what some of its tweets look like so far:

Tay’s target market for its research-disguised-as-mildy-amusing-chatbot is the 18-24 demographic, as Microsoft says, “Tay is an artificial intelligent chat bot developed by Microsoft’s Technology and Research and Bing teams to experiment with and conduct research on conversational understanding. Tay is designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation. The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized for you.”

To be fair, while the whole idea of the bot may come off pretty cringe-worthy, but its actual messages read pretty much like the Internet users it’s trying to emulate. Still, its responses, while demonstrating a solid grasp of how to Internet, don’t necessarily function very well conversationally, and the only way Tay’s passing a Turing test is if the judge is just as confused by the way actual young people talk.

(via The Verge, image via NBC, Neil Richards on Flickr, & our edits)

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Dan is a video game modding hobbyist and secret ninja who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa Brown, and his dog, Liz Lemon, both of whom are the best.