The reason Taylor Smith threatened to sue Microsoft
American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift threatened to sue Microsoft over a racist chatbot.
According to Microsoft‘s president, Brad Smith in his new autobiography, Tools and Weapons, the 10 times Grammy winner tried to take legal action against Microsoft because the name of its now-defunct Twitter chatbot, Tay, was similar to hers.
Back in 2016, Microsoft unleashed a Twitter chatbot named Tay onto the world. The bot was designed to learn from conversations it had on social media. However, the machine-learning algorithm turned to racism and sexism.
Tay started tweeting racist statements and making inflammatory comments, some of which expressed support for genocide while others denied the holocaust had happened. Another tweet praised Hitler and claimed the account hated Jews. What happened as described by Smith was that Tay was attacked with racist statements by “a small group of American pranksters.” The AI tool soon began repeating the exact same ideas at others.
“Bush did 9/11 and Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have now,” it tweeted.
“WE’RE GOING TO BUILD A WALL, AND MEXICO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT,” it added.
Microsoft swiftly issued an apology and Tay was taken offline in less than 18 hours after its release.
However, singer Taylor Swift was not happy with the name of the chatbot, which her lawyers claimed was associated with the singer.
According to the BBC, the Microsoft president describes in his book about receiving an email from a Beverly Hills lawyer representing Swift after @TayTweets went live. “The name Tay, as I’m sure you must know, is closely associated with our client,” this lawyer reportedly wrote, adding that the name Tay “created a false and misleading association between the popular singer and our chatbot.”
“I actually didn’t know (that Tay is closely associated with Taylor Smithe),” Swift says in the book “but the email nonetheless grabbed my attention.”
Also according to Brad Smith, “the lawyer went on to argue that the use of the name Tay created a false and misleading association between the popular singer and our chatbot and that it violated federal and state laws.”
US news outlets report that Taylor Swift attempts to trademark Tay were unsuccessful although the artist has successfully trademarked other things, including the year of her birth, 1989, and lyrics from songs that featured on her bestselling album of the same name.