Britain's 'bullied' chatbots fight back

Image of shouting manImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Chatbots are being programmed to respond to abusive messages

UK chatbot companies are programming their creations to deal with messages containing swearing, rudeness and sexism, BBC News has learned.

Chatbots have received thousands of antisocial messages over the past year.

One financial chatbot has been asked out on a date nearly 2,000 times and to “send nude [picture]s” more than 1,000, according to its makers, Cleo AI.

The chatbot now responds to the request by sending an image of a circuit board.

Image copyright

Image caption

Because chatbots reply automatically, they are almost always available

Cleo’s chatbots now also

  • respond to “Make me a sandwich” with repeated images of sandwiches
  • respond to potentially homophobic messages with: “The complexities of human sexuality are rather beyond me, at present” along with an emoji of a rainbow.

Cleo’s lead writer, Harriet Smith Hughes, told BBC News “The usual protocol is to rebut gendered abuse with gifs from strong, outspoken female figures – Meryl Streep, [Star Trek’s] Capt Kathryn Janeway, Ripley in Alien.

“Some responses are harsher: screenshots from feminist horror film Teeth is always good.”

Image copyright

Image caption

Some chatbots have specific responses ready for antisocial messages

Paul Shepherd, of We Build Bots, told BBC News its chatbots had seen their “fair share of abuse”.

But those in retail services had three times as many critical or abusive messages (3%).

“We think this is because there’s often a physical purchase involved and people take it out on the bot when a delivery is late or wrong,” he told BBC News.

Victor Trokoudes founder of financial chatbot Plum told BBC News some of their users were likely to stress test chatbots during the first few days of use, sometimes involving swearing,

“We realised that early on users will test how real Plum would be and what happens if I say something nasty to it,” he said.

But the proportion of “nasty” messages then dropped, from about 5% in the first week of use to 0.1% after the first month.

“We collected all ‘negative’ phrases that people have said and evolved Plum to respond to them in a funny way,” Mr Trokoudes told BBC News.

Plum is now programmed to respond: “I might be a robot but I have digital feelings. Please don’t swear.”

“That really had a positive effect and people would feel Plum was actually a smart entity on the other side of the chat,” Mr Trokoudes added.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Keep Safe

Wash your hands frequently Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands. Maintain social distancing Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Open chat
Powered by