Microsoft CEO on crazy Tay AI: It was not up to the mark

CEO Satya Nadella briefly addresses the controversy surrounding the company's teen AI chatbot.

Dan Graziano Associate Editor / How To
Dan Graziano is an associate editor for CNET. His work has appeared on BGR, Fox News, Fox Business, and Yahoo News, among other publications. When he isn't tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos, he can be found enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City.
Dan Graziano

Microsoft took Tay offline after she sent out several offensive tweets.


"Back to the drawing board." That's how Chief Executive Satya Nadella addressed Microsoft's recent gaffes with Tay, its artificial-intelligence teenage chatbot.

Microsoft took the chatbot offline last week after it spewed racist and sexist remarks on Twitter. However, Tay managed to sneak back online for a couple hours Wednesday and continue her nonsensical rant before being grounded again. A Microsoft spokeswoman said Tay was "inadvertently activated."

At Microsoft's annual Build developers conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Nadella said the company wants to build technology that "gets the best of humanity, not the worst." The statement drew chuckles from the crowd.

"Last week, when we launched our bot Tay," Nadella said. "We quickly realized it was not up to this mark."

The AI chatbot started life as a Microsoft research project and was designed to learn the art of millennial conversation through interactions with real people. Unfortunately for Microsoft, some Internet users attempted to teach Tay to say all sorts of awful things. Microsoft took Tay offline within a day of its release, and said it's working out the kinks.

Microsoft has joined tech giants like Facebook, Google, Apple and IBM who are trying to create software that can learn from what we do and, by extension, help us in our daily lives. Facebook, for example, is teaching its AI how to recognize shapes in a photo so that it can tell blind users what's on the screen.

CNET's Ian Sherr contributed to this report.