Last month, Microsoft announced that it would swap its human editors with AI software for curating news articles on MSN. Reportedly, many layoffs were made in the following days.
It turns out, the decision to fire human journalists backfired pretty quickly. The service is now under fire for messing up a news article.
The AI software’s job is to harvest news articles from various publications and attach an image to it. MSN recently published a news article about the racism experienced by Little Mix-fame musician Jade Thirlwall but added a photo of Leigh-Anne Pinnock instead. Pinnock is also a member of Little Mix.
The news quickly caught Thirlwall’s attention, who expressed her anger in an Instagram Story.
“@MSN If you’re going to copy and paste articles from other accurate media outlets, you might want to make sure you’re using an image of the correct mixed-race member of the group.”
“This shit happens to @leighannepinnock and I ALL THE TIME that it’s become a running joke. It offends me that you couldn’t differentiate the two women of color out of four members of a group … DO BETTER!”
As reported by The Guardian, citing Microsoft sources, the wrong image was added to the story by the AI software. However, it would be a mere coincidence that Thirlwall would have guessed what happened behind the scenes.
All of this comes at a time when anti-racism protests are on the rise across the globe following the death of George Floyd. Thirlwall also attended a Black Lives Matter event in London.
At this time, the artificial intelligence software stepping in and possibly hurting the sentiments of the people is not a good thing for Microsoft.
Even though we can blame the robot editor for its inefficiency, The Verge pointed out that the potential mislabeling of images provided by wire services could be one of the reasons behind the incident. Still, it can’t be ignored that it failed to differentiate between two mixed-race bandmates.
“As soon as we became aware of this issue, we immediately took action to resolve it and have replaced the incorrect image,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the remaining human journalists working for MSN are advised to keep an eye on the mishaps created by their artificial intelligence colleagues. They are advised to delete such stories that are automatically published by the software.
However, the chances are that the robot editor may overrule their actions and try to republish the story. Hence, the employees need to keep an eye on it as well. We can only hope the AI software gets better over time.