back to article Need a decent dining spot in Ottawa? Microsoft suggested a food bank

​​Microsoft took down an article from its sprawling web empire that recommended travelers visit the Ottawa Food Bank on an empty stomach as a tourist attraction in the Canadian capital. The story, published on MSN and headlined "Headed to Ottawa? Here's what you shouldn't miss," listed 15 places to stop by. Most of the …

  1. Rikki Tikki

    My two cents

    "The 'empty stomach' line is clearly insensitive and didn't pass by a (human) editor."

    That line was lifted almost verbatim from the Ottawa Food Bank website - apart from changing "imagine" to "consider", so the criticism of that wording is somewhat unfounded.

    Agreed, I would not want this turned into a "tourist attraction" for people to gawp at - OTOH, if it makes people aware that there are needy families everywhere (Ottawa, Canberra, London, etc, etc) maybe that is a good thing, especially if people divert some of their holiday money from overpriced museums to turn up with a food donation.

    1. ChoHag Silver badge

      Re: My two cents

      > apart from changing "imagine" to "consider", so the criticism of that wording is somewhat unfounded.

      This is the AI's bypass_copyright() function at work.

      1. parlei Bronze badge

        Re: My two cents

        In other words it works just like a lazy but "clever" student: copying and then changing a word here and there. Now, does masquerading as a lazy 15 year old count as AI?

    2. Philo T Farnsworth

      Re: My two cents

      That was how I read it, too.

      Maybe we ought to put "attractions" like this into every "things to waste your time and money on" list, just to remind the tourist about those who are unable to put food on the table for themselves and their families, much less galavant around to the trendiest hot spot seeking the perfect selfie for their social media pages.


      That's be such a downer.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The article was not published by an unsupervised AI"

    You should have seen the ones that were!

    Ok, so this item, which was only created by an "algorithm" by the way, got past our human supervisor. But it was just a simple error, you can't really blame him: he was a bit distracted being sick into a wastebin after reading the actual AI's suggestion about dining out at the homeless shelter and the recipes it suggested you should try out there. Utterly appalling, it recommended a white wine to go with long pork!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The article was not published by an unsupervised AI"

      The human error was a human didn't proof read it.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: "The article was not published by an unsupervised AI"

        The human error was that a manager decided a human didn't have to proofread it.


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One would be tempted to wonder is Microfart has since made a huge and generous donation

    Yes, I know,but I can still wonder.

  4. IGotOut Silver badge

    This is nothing new.

    Google+ (remember that?) used to recommend all kinds of crap back in the day, and, and no one used it, it was REALLY easy to fudge.

    I did it, for good, to make a small charity cafe, appear on the first page of Google results when searching for food within 10 miles. But equally there were places that never served food, places that made commercial foods for other retailers and even one off charity events.

    So yes, you don't need AI for shit results.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: This is nothing new.

      So yes, you don't need AI for shit results.

      But if you want guaranteed shit result, there's nothing better than AI.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: This is nothing new.

      That's not the point.

      Yes, humans have been shitty at their jobs since Oglug failed to keep the campfire burning. So what ?

      We're not supposed to be making pseudo-AI to make the same (or worse) mistakes we do. We should be making it to do better.

      It's not better because it's not AI. It's just statistics, and a human has to program the damn things. Not to mention train them.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: This is nothing new.

      Google is almost entirely "pay-to-play" now. If you want your website to be in the first several pages, you will need to buy keywords and sign up for other advertising.

      One of the things I do is make photos for estate agents. If you search for a real estate photographer in my area, you would get real estate offices, not photographers and the vast majority of those are marked as "ad" or "sponsored". There are also plenty of results from sites coded to claim they are local to anybody searching for a service. I can't even look for a plumber as many results are for companies hundreds of miles away if the site belongs to a plumber in the first place.


      Google is useless if you aren't looking for an online eTailer (Amazon mainly).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is nothing new.

        It used to be that Google would let malware flingers buy up adwords that meant that searching for reputable anti-virus software would get a dozen or so fake sites listed before you got to the genuine site

    4. Mr Dogshit

      Re: This is nothing new.

      There's an ordinary house in an ordinary street near where I live that Bing Maps is convinced is a Starbucks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is nothing new. has just had a listing with a delightful view of Dorset's Portland Bay and the Jurassic coast for just £86 per night

        And going back a few years, there was a listing for the restaurant in London's Ox Tower...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facts are over rated

    Politicians have been avoiding them for decades.

  6. chivo243 Silver badge

    HA LOL

    I live in a city called Ottawa in the US, and it has a food bank that my family volunteers at weekly... Too weird to read the headline before a cuppa, I thought "naaa, can't be, not us?"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The employee who was checking the AI-generated results was fired by the AI HRbot before he got the end of listicles because, being a typical dullard human, could not keep up with AIchat generated output.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    CNET, Gizmondo, others to be found out

    So, we're now in the age of "publications" paying AI to create stuff to bring in readership.

    Well, now that I know that, I'm not using those site ever again.

    If you think I'm going to be interested in the brain farts of something that has no brain, have I got news for you.

    The Board thinks it's going to create the perfect AI to "create" it's content, fire all the meatbags and profit ?

    Not gonna happen.

  9. Bebu Silver badge

    Arthur Frommer's ghost in the machine?

    Europe on 5 Dollars a Day - Arthur Frommer (1957)

    A Yankee in Ottawa -or- The Return of the Cheap American ? ;)

  10. katrinab Silver badge

    The human involvement in the article was the human asking Bing Chat to generate the article, and copy-pasting the output into their content management system.

  11. Tron Silver badge

    Use of AI is like a really bad review.

    The moment you hit it, you know they don't give a toss about their readership or customers, and it is time to go somewhere else.

    They think AI is the future (ie. the next way to reduce their costs and increase their bonuses). The reality is that it is toxic to anyone stupid enough to deploy it, even if overseen by a moron on minimum wage.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Use of AI is like a really bad review.

      AI could be a useful tool, but to think that it's going to do all of the work is laughable. If you are creating something a human will use, it needs to go through a human to check that it's meaningful and useful.

      As a photographer I see hysterical reports about how AI is going to render all photographers nothing more than people that haul the gear to the location and how at some point AI will just find the imagery online, clean it up and output a bazillion pixel rendering with absolute color accuracy. Tripe. It's not the tool, it's the person using the tool. Estate agents sometimes will go out and purchase a top of the line camera kit which they go on to make crap images with. Even if they send the photos off to an editor in Asia or Australia (Box Brownie), they are just getting their turds gold-plated. This doesn't mean that AI won't be a useful tool for photographers, but it won't be standalone and a novice's work isn't going to be elevated to Master class by using it.

  12. Ropewash

    I don't know about Ottawa,

    But if this was Vancouver then that's a pretty sound recommendation for one of the places people can still afford to visit after paying rent.

  13. FuzzyTheBear

    I hate to say this ..

    But i been to ottawa a hell of a lot and i am yet to find a real good restaurant ..

    Food bank at times seems a valid alternative.

    Ottawa is no place to send / recommend to anyone unless you truly are out for revenge ..

    Or a sadist .. whatever :)

  14. DogsPavlova

    The *other* way...

    LOL, you're supposed to throw a machine under the bus to protect the human, not the other way 'round....

  15. therobyouknow

    The Elgin Street Diner in Ottawa

    is the best place to go.

    It has been going for years. I knew it when I worked at Nortel over there in the late 1990s.

    A Nortel colleague enthused: it never closes! Not even at Christmas, apparently. It runs 24 hours.

    The kind of place you could have a Chicken Shop-date style atmosphere along the lines that Amelia Dimoldenberg does with interesting guests on YouTube. Very cool. I would definitely recommend. Rave reviews. Long may it continue.

    (no affiliation, incentive or referral. Just wanted to bring this to your attention).

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