Tag Archives: Microsoft

Microsoft’s Tay “chatbot” was trolled into becoming the “Hitler-loving sex robot”

Microsoft was forced to shut down the chatbot named Tay, after it tweeted several sexist and racist remarks.

According to the software giant, Microsoft endeavored to connect with millennials 18 to 24 years old, and they planned to do this task through Tay. She was an AI designed to talk like a teenage girl.

According to a Microsoft post, “The more you chat with Tay, the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized for you”.

Microsoft’s concept and idealization for Tay was that the chatbot would produce entertaining and funny reactions and responses based on tweets and other messages it was sent through applications like Kik and GroupMe.

Despite the good-intentions, internet trolls started to connect and bombard Tay on Wednesday March 23 almost exactly when it was launched. Tay started to utilize a percentage of the bigot, racist, and sexist remarks in its own Twitter conversations.

Graphic from the Telegraph and Twitter.
Tay’s responses were learned by conversations she had with people online. Graphic from the Telegraph and Twitter.

 

The bot’s tweets were so offensive and drew such an uproar that one newspaper named Tay the “Hitler-loving sex robot.”

Microsoft’s chat robot Tay was taken offline less than 24 hours after its launch since it was tweeting such sexist and racist language. But not before the AI robot tweeted approximately 96,000 times, which seems like a lot of tweets for an average teen girl or millennial.

 

 

In a released statement by Microsoft, they said ”Unfortunately, within the first 24 hours of coming online, we became aware of a coordinated effort by some users to abuse Tay’s commenting skills to have Tay respond in inappropriate ways”.

Microsoft, who designed the AI with a specific end goal of enhancing the customer service on their voice recognition software, apologized directly after the incident in a blog entry made by Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Research.

Lee wrote, “We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for, nor how we designed Tay”.

Microsoft said that it’s modifying Tay, however was not able to say if or when the bot may return. Lee said that they will only bring her back when they are confident that they can make better prepare to limit technical exploits.

Micro-Mining

Simply stated, the popular video game Minecraft, is a game which includes placing and building blocks. Hasn’t this game come and gone already? Haven’t the likes of Tetris and Bejeweled exhausted themselves? To state it simply: NO.

A Minecraft rendition of Main Quad, created by Julian Guerra.
A Minecraft rendition of Main Quad, created by Julian Guerra.

Minecraft, though moderately more intuitive then Tetris or Bejeweled, is one of the best-selling independent games on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Xbox of all time, and has sold over 20 million copies since its release in 2009. The public opinion of the game is split between viewing it as a “big waste of time,” or a medium for “creativity and learning.” Like most video games, Minecraft can seem to have both effects on its users. Minecraft users find themselves dropped randomly into a number of uniquely, generated terrains in which there are little to no instructions or objectives to accomplish. Furthermore, this scenario for the game’s users is what seems to have kept it alive and lucrative for the last six years. Children, teenagers, and even adults are said to enjoy this virtual world regularly, and it doesn’t appear that this trend is going to cease anytime soon.

Microsoft announced last week that they’ll officially be purchasing Mojang AB, the developer of Minecraft, for $2.5 billion. NPR’s Laura Sydell reports that, “the move displays a shift in strategy for the company’s new CEO.” Satya Nadella took over for former CEO, Steve Ballmer, back in February, and it appears that he’s wasting no time in broadening Microsoft’s consumer audience. Microsoft holds much of its status in its Windows Phone, PC, and especially Xbox, but with this purchase, it appears that Microsoft is looking to champion something that’s already working. Because of Minecraft’s versatile audience, Microsoft sees the current evolution of the “gamer” and that s/he is becoming much more diverse.  Microsoft’s other long-time popular game, Halo, though very lucrative, is one that appeals to a very specific demographic (i.e. men and teenagers). Minecraft players include men and women of all ages, and Microsoft is seeking to capitalize off of the wide range of availability this purchase offers its users.

It’s key for Minecraft’s most dedicated users to have access to the game on any and all devices, at any and all times. With the continued development of technology and entertainment such as tablets, smart phones, computers, and watches, Nadella’s purchase looks to be an educated, smart business move.  As children, teenagers, and adults continue to indulge in the virtual world of Minecraft, whether for creative or entertainment purposes, the newly established relationship between Microsoft and Minecraft looks to be a lucrative one.

Pages throws Word out Windows

People have been using Microsoft Word to type up documents since its inception in the mid-80s when it set out to undermine WordPerfect’s market. Students and instructors use Word to tailor their documents to their specified liking. But alas, there’s a software that dares to enter Word’s territory. This competitor is both simple to use and simple to learn, unlike Word’s toolbar layout. Continue reading Pages throws Word out Windows

Xbox One delivers

There has been much hype and criticism for Microsoft‘s challenger in the next generation console wars. The Xbox One exceeded its sales predictions and is in high demand with little supply. Let’s breakdown the pros and cons of the device to see if it’s right for you this holiday season. Continue reading Xbox One delivers

Microsoft tries to keep Surface alive

At the advent of the tablet revolution, Microsoft released their tablet, Surface, to compliment Windows 8. They offered two versions of their product, RT and Pro. The RT was negatively reviewed and destroyed by critics for its lack of power and expandability. The Surface Pro was considered a success for its integration of Office, Microsoft’s productivity suite, and its ability to install applications not available on the Windows Market. In an effort to regain the costumers lost from their RT unit, Microsoft released the Surface 2 line. Continue reading Microsoft tries to keep Surface alive

Xbox: How Microsoft tried to change the game

Microsoft did something bold recently. They tried to bring an all-digital experience to gamers of the 21st century using Xbox One. Microsoft’s intent was to allow users to share games with their friends and family without leaving the couch. In order to do this, Microsoft mandated that all consoles be checked for internet connectivity in order to validate that people were not “copying” games for more than ten people. In addition, Microsoft said that using the Kinect camera would be requirement.

Continue reading Xbox: How Microsoft tried to change the game

Computer programs on the cheap

Photo from Creative Commons.

Computer programs vital to everyday college life have a price that reflect that need. The issue here is most college students don’t have the ability to fork out the big bucks to get what they need. Here are a couple of programs that won’t weigh down the wallets of college students in the least bit because they are free.

Open Office

Think of Open Office like what Microsoft Office should have been: free to users. Open Office is a product of the open source community, meaning it’s always improving, changing and getting better. Recently Microsoft has begun to see Open Office eat into their profits as more and more companies have switched to the free software.

Open Office provides all the bells and whistles that one would expect from Microsoft Office and more. The Open Office interface is clean, sleek and easy to use. Even as versions of the software update, the layout remains consistent, allowing for users to pick up from one version of the software to the next with no learning curve. There is no need to spend hours searching through drop down menus or ribbons to search for something that had once been somewhere else and then moved for some other reason.

Besides being a word processor, Open Office also provides other programs within the Open Office suites. One such program is the Open Office Draw program. It is more or less a simplified version of Microsoft Paint in a layout that is roughly similar to Photoshop; it just doesn’t have any of the added advantages that Photoshop has. Though, what it does have that neither of those programs can brag about are downloadable add-ons. While the base program isn’t much to look at, the add-ons can change it significantly.

Along with the Open Office Draw program there are also Base, Calc and Impress. Base is what Excel is to Microsoft Office. It provides spread sheets and can even do very basic formulaic equations. Calc is a bit more complicated; it actually analyzes the data made in the Base spread sheets, making more complicated formulas or creating graphs based on it. Open Office split the two to allow for a simpler interface for users and not clutter up the task bars in either program.

Gimp

Too poor or cheap to dish out the several hundred dollars to buy Adobe Photoshop? Well, Gimp is a free alternative also made by the open source community, like Open Office. Gimp is a straightforward graphics editing program. It is capable of doing many of the same things that Photoshop and Illustrator do. However, there is one big drawback. The layout is not really new-user friendly; it takes a great amount of time of tinkering with it to figure out how to bring up the layers panel so that it actually works. Finding some of the Photoshop-similar tools in Gimp can mean browsing drop down menu after drop down menu looking for what you want.

Gimp does have an advantage thanks to the open source community. There is a portable app version of Gimp. Going somewhere but only have a pendrive and someone else’s to get your work done with is no problem. With any computer and Gimp portable you can boot up your work just about anywhere. It is a lighter and easier to use version of Gimp that still incorporates many of the same tools with a much smaller program size.

The open source community is full of many useful programs. Just because a copy or clone of a popular program is known does not mean it does not exist. These have just been a few of the money saving programs users can find throughout the open source community there are many more waiting to be discovered.