back to article Yeah, great start after sacking human hacks: Microsoft's AI-powered news portal mixes up photos of women-of-color in article about racism

Microsoft's online news service mixed up a singer from the British girl group Little Mix for another mixed-race member of the pop band in an article about racism – after the Windows giant dumped dozens of human editors for AI software. Jade Thirlwall discussed the difficulties of growing up in a predominantly white …

  1. jake Silver badge

    It's a trifle early for the silly season, but ...

    "It offends me that you couldn’t differentiate the two women of colour out of four members of a group … DO BETTER!"

    Does the kid actually think that yelling at a computer will somehow help her cause?

    And those other two women in her group ... they are transparent, I presume, having no colo(u)r ...

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: It's a trifle early for the silly season, but ...

      People generally assume it was some ones fault - and it is.

      What is really silly is Microsoft claiming it wasn't the software at fault while admitting there had been a software error.

      The other ladies of the group (whose name I can't recall, as I'd never heard of them until today), aren't of course transparent, just not of a newsworthy colour just now.

      This is only the first blunder, the 'A.I' is going to do this again, or something similar, all because MS would rather not pay a few salaries for a quality, intelligent edit.

      Cheap bastards.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: It's a trifle early for the silly season, but ...

        It seems to be a standard practice with MS to roll out products only half developed and then try to get them working correctly as they go along. If that doesn't work they just pull it.

      2. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: It's a trifle early for the silly season, but ...

        "This is only the first blunder, the 'A.I' is going to do this again, or something similar, all because MS would rather not pay a few salaries for a quality, intelligent edit."

        Unfortunately, this is not a problem that requires AI to be involved:

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-52938162

    2. sabroni Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: It's a trifle early for the silly season, but ...

      She understands that things won't change unless you make noise. Unlike most women of colour she can actually get people's attention using tools like Twitter and make ms take notice.

      Racism isn't silly season stuff. Unless you're privileged.

    3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: It's a trifle early for the silly season, but ...

      I know many a developer (including myself) that has yelled at his or her computer at some point in time. Indeed, yelling by itself doesn't solve the problem but:

      a) it is good to blow off steam, and,

      b) it did warn off users not to bother me with questions about a word processing package I never use, at that point in time, if they wanted to reach beer o'clock unscathed

      Now where is that BOFH-grade cattleprod

    4. pcranness

      Re: It's a trifle early for the silly season, but ...

      I would suggest that Jade didn't know that she was talking to AI software. I doubt she keeps up with who/what curates MSN.

      It also appears that yelling at the computer did help her cause. Microsoft changed the picture.

  2. redpawn Silver badge

    Being human,

    they ran their code on the wrong computer. They still can't tell them apart, although they claim they can.

  3. Mr Dogshit

    Who the hell reads MSN anyway?

  4. TheProf Silver badge

    Don't all famous people look alike?

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/1606bd61-7743-4509-bebd-b9abf37ff94d

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The story is illustrated in the media with pictures of two very different looking women which makes the error look laughable. Girl band members (and boy band members for that matter) might be a relatively difficult test for facial recognition as they do tend to change their look quite often. You can imagine AI trained on older photos with different hair styles etc might run into problems. Doesn't explain / excuse poor ability with different ethnic groups of course.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      That's where IBM with their nobody-over-40 workforce would have an advantage

      Nobody over 40 can tell any members of a typical boy-band apart

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      I thought the “I” stood for “intelligence”. But it really stands for “stupid pattern matching”. If it was “intelligent” it wouldn’t be tricked by makeup or hairstyle.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Be afraid

    Be very afraid.

    This is just a taste of the future. Those old SF stories where a computer decides a person is guilty of a crime that was never committed, or that someone doesn't exist, are getting uncomfortably close to reality.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Be afraid

      Well we have made it much easier.

      You used to need SciFi levels of AI sophistication to allow detection of pre-crime or psychohistory.

      Now you just need to check for an image luminescence value to detect criminals

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Be afraid

      You're right, I'll get BRAZIL out and watch it tonight.

  7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    AI

    AI = artificial idiocy, artificial incompetence, artificial imbeciles

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