Tag Archives: Robots

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.

Robotpocalypse: Replacing man with metal

As long as there has been man and work, there has been a man trying to make a tool to do the work for him. I’m not saying that people are lazy; I’m saying that I and about seventeen and a half million people would rather be watching a kitten play with a stick. People didn’t always have this much free time, though. It wasn’t until industrialization that we really started using machines to do hard work for us, right? Our forefathers didn’t have the tools available to create modern, complex machines — robots, specifically — like we do today.

Except for the guy in the Middle East who built a robotic music band that ran on water in the 13th century. Apparently, robots have been around for a very long time. Continue reading Robotpocalypse: Replacing man with metal

Weekly Time Wasters: Tesla fights and parenting

While most sane people are perfectly content to look at a Tesla Coil, smile in awe and move on, these two brave souls had been watching too much “Star Wars” the night before and said to themselves, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to wrap ourselves in pure electricity and shoot it at each other?” Continue reading Weekly Time Wasters: Tesla fights and parenting

Cheetah robot breaks land speed record

A Boston Dynamics engineer has designed a robot to mimic the running motions of a cheetah. This is the same company behind the military’s Bigdog robotics project, the future robotic work mule for the military. This project was a military-funded experiment to examine the motion of cheetahs to create a robot that has more fluid and life-like motions. Continue reading Cheetah robot breaks land speed record

Carnivorous robots

In recent years there has been a race to determine how to create sustainable robots for long missions. This race has created robots that break down grass and twigs to power them on their tasks.

Recently this sustainable race has turned toward a slightly darker track. There are now robots that can break down bugs and create a power source out of them. That is the hope that two research centers have for the future of robots. These two centers are located in Seoul, South Korea, and Orono, Maine. Each research facility has recently devised a way for robots to capture bugs. While the methods are similar, they use different base components.

A robot that catches flies and spiders. Photo from Creative Commons.

The one bug-trapping robot made in Seoul was produced by Seoul University and uses a memory shape metal spring. Both bots discussed in this article are modeled after Venus Flytraps. The miniature robot is nothing more than a battery and circuit board and whatever materials make up the the leaves of the Venus Flytrap bot. In this case, it’s a carbon fiber polymer. The spring is triggered like any common mouse trap, and when weight is applied to the bottom leaf, the trap swings shut trapping whatever the bot may have in its grasp. It’s a little more complicated than it sounds, but whenever the weight presses down against the bottom leaf it activates an electrical current, which triggers the electric sensitive spring to shut.

The bot, made by engineer Mohsen Shahinpoor at the University of Maine, uses a slightly more complicated method of bug capture. The leaves of this Venus bot are covered in a polymer membrane coated in gold electrodes. When a bug or anything hits the membrane, it compacts the gold electrodes against a conductive surface beneath, allowing for the trap to quickly shut on its victim. The reason it does this is the polymer membrane is designed to curl when introduced to an electrical current.

While these flytraps may be the start of a terrible robot apocalypse, it will be years before people will need to worry about the Man Hunter 2000 robot that captures and devours humans alive. Once the robot traps, the flies are stuck holding onto them with no means to transfer them to a chemical digestive system to break down the flies into a fuel source. So, everyone can breath easy for now, but there is no telling when the robot uprising may begin and whether or not we will be on their meal plan.

Futuristic and feel-good, but a bit cliché

Photo from Creative Commons.

“Real Steel,” directed by Shawn Levy, hit theaters nationwide on Oct. 7 and made $27 million in its opening weekend. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, this film is an action thriller that’s fun for all ages.

Set in the year 2020, this film follows Charlie Kenton, played by Hugh Jackman, a boxer who was forced into retirement after professional boxing eradicated humans and evolved into robot boxing. Robot boxing became the new favorite of boxing audiences because there was more action, and each fight can potentially be a fight to the death, something that human boxing never had.

The film begins with Charlie, who is in major debt after making too many large bets in fights too big for his robots to handle. In the film, Charlie destroys two heavy-hitting and expensive robots after betting money on fights where he is the obvious underdog. Soon, Charlie learns that his old girlfriend passed away and his son, a witty 11-year-old boy he hasn’t seen since his birth, is now under his watch, unless he signs custody over to the boy’s aunt and her wealthy husband.

Screenshot from the movie "Real Steel." Photo from Creative Commons.

After an especially difficult fight, where Kenton loses his $45,000 fighting robot, Kenton and his son Max, played by Dakota Goyo, break into an old robot junkyard looking for spare robot parts. This is where Max finds Atom, an older generation of fighting robots with a rare shadow function. Max spends the night digging Atom out of the muddy junkyard, fixing him, powering him up and cleaning him. By the next day, Max has big dreams for the little robot. Against Kenton’s advice, Max chooses to enter Atom in a fight and the robot from the junkyard starts his journey to becoming the most famous robot in the world of robot boxing.

This movie is a feel-good film all around. The relationship between Charlie and Max is a struggle throughout the entire movie because both characters are bold and stubborn, but in the end it ends up being a story of father-son redemption. They may butt heads a lot, but there are also a lot of heartwarming moments between the duo that give the audience hope for the two and their little robot that could — well, could take a punch, that is. However, this movie would be nothing without Max, the kid who never gave up. Though cliché, as many would claim this film is, his faith gives the audience faith.

Screenshot from the movie "Real Steel." Photo from Creative Commons.

The technological aspect of this movie is very impressive as well; it isn’t overly futuristic which is a nice break from the recent film fads. There are just enough details to make it feel like it’s in the future, but there’s also enough present material to make the movie relatable so no one gets lost in the technology. The script and premise may be a little corny, but the fight scenes are fantastic.

This film is like a mixture of “Transformers” and “Rocky.” Though the sports-underdog plot is somewhat cliched, overall, “Real Steel” is a pretty good movie.

Rating: 4.5/5

Robots and you

Graphic by: Alex Morgan

Robots are becoming an ever increasing part of human life as they advance further and further. Recently, a lab in Slovenia began teaching robots the pain threshold of humans. To do this, they designed a robot with the sheer purpose of punching a person on the arm. The research done by professor ??Borut Povse is vital to the robotics industry. If and when robots become released for commercial use they will need to know how not to hurt us, as mentioned in the first law of robotics proposed by Isaac Asimov.

This is all good and wonderful until people begin to realize the negative aspects such training of our future robot overlords could have. This means robots will be able to learn how hard to hit us to hurt us, but not to leave any marks behind. This opens a whole new scary future as robots become even more sophisticated. Such robotics research, while done for a noble cause to prevent injury, could be corrupted in the future by unscrupulous forces to make a better torture device knowing where and how to hit victims to extract information.

With AIs for computer and console games becoming smarter and more adaptive to give players a greater in-game challenge, do we really want to take a risk of these two technologies meeting up? Just imagine a world of pain inducing robots that can learn–no one would stand a chance against their terrible might. The Japanese are already working to give robots mouths, now we are teaching them how to speak and sing. Soon they will be able to taunt us in non-robotic sounding voices and sing songs of their great victories.

All kidding and paranoia aside, this study has a great deal of practical use. In factories the ability of robots to identify humans and then limit the amount of force they put out to compensate would be vital in ensuring worker safety. As more and more robots find their way into the workforce, this is going to become a very important component to prevent worker injury.

The robotic mouth and nose were developed by Japanese researchers who were trying to develop a means to aid the deaf in speaking. The idea is that the deaf will use the robot as a visual guide to enable them to speak clearer and better. This is especially important in Asian countries where a slight mispronunciation of a word can change the words entire meaning. This is just another example of how robots, which so many people seem to fear, are helping to make our lives better.

Robots are going to be a very vital part of our future. They will aid in everyday tasks and help those who can’t help themselves. While these great intentions will lead to the betterment of mankind, there is still the potential that what is done may lead to the downfall of humans. Though, such a downfall is very unlikely until we build a robot that can produce more of its kind or repair itself.