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Machine Learning Robots: Smart and Pissed with a Purpose

By: mprinz Friday April 8, 2016 comments

Robot HeadIt’s old news now. You’ve probably heard about the robot-gone-rogue Tay and her hate-filled responses. Created to grow like a baby, she was supposed to learn and mature with each human interaction getting “smarter” as the hours grew longer. Something went awry though. 

She was killed 24 hours after being introduced to the world as a “chatbot with zero chill” who targeted 18 – 24 year olds in playful conversation over several social sites like Twitter. To be clear, zero chill is a catch phrase for recklessness. The blame for her offensive commentary was misdirected towards some online groups (4chan and 8chan among others) that initiated and instigated the asinine rants. Forget the fact she was initially programmed with content developed by a staff that included improvisational comedians. Seriously. 

In her short life and subsequent death there’s been a lot of finger pointing. As Mom used to say, “When you a point a finger, there are three pointing back at you.” I’m not a genius, but even I could have seen that coming. Seems like a clear case of someone neglecting to write and program an empathy script, and someone neglecting to test for it. 

Like I said, old news. For all we know, it was nothing more than a social experiment considering China released XiaoIce last year and to date, with over 10 billion conversations and millions of users, she’s exhibited none of the lunacy that Tay embraced and vomited. XiaoIce has been labeled as “empathetic, caring and always available” unlike some humans who showed their true nature when taunting and teaching Tay. Touché. 

Interestingly enough, Touchpoint Group (a New Zealand based company) is in the process of creating the rudest robot ever - on purpose. Actually, with two business purposes:

  1. They’re collecting call center conversations from irate customers in the banking, telecommunications and insurance industries to help identify issues that drive clients crazy. By deconstructing what they find, they hope to detect trends and provide solutions to help improve business processes and behaviors before problems become explosive complaints. 
  1. They’re using all those vicious verbal assaults as a training tool to help telemarketers (real humans) effectively handle escalations when clients call and flip out of control. Employees at these call centers get to practice with pissed-off robots in an effort to diffuse a potential “real life” situation. How fun is that?


In Touchpoint Group’s case, swearing, vulgarity and tasteless outbursts are paying off.


Would you consider using a training tool to verbally attack your employees?


Call innotrieve. We’d like to know what you think.

About the Author: mprinz