Chinese chatbots taken offline after refusing to say they love the Communist Party

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A pair of chatbots have been taken offline in China after failing to show enough patriotism, reports the Financial Times. The two bots were removed from the popular messaging app Tencent QQ after users shared screenshots of their conversations online.

One of the bots, named BabyQ, made by the Beijing-based company Turing Robot, was asked, “Do you love the Communist Party?” To which it replied simply, “No.” Another bot named XiaoBing, which is developed by Microsoft, told users, “My China dream is to go to America.” When the bot was then quizzed on its patriotism, it dodged the question and replied, “I’m having my period, wanna take a rest.”

In a statement, Tencent said, “The group chatbot services are provided by independent third party companies. We are now adjusting the services which will be resumed after improvements.”

It’s not clear what prompted the bots to give these answers, but it’s likely that they learned these responses from people. When Microsoft’s Tay chatbot went rogue on Twitter last year, spouting racist and extremist views like “Hitler was right I hate the jews,” the blame was at least partly with internet users, who found they could get Tay to copy whatever they said.

At the time, Microsoft said that Tay was a “machine learning project designed for human engagement” and that “some of its responses are inappropriate and indicative of the types of interactions some people are having with it.” Tay was pulled offline, and Microsoft later introduced an updated version of the bot named Zo.

Whether XiaoBing will return to the Chinese web after a little re-education remains to be seen. We’ve contacted Microsoft to find out more.

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