Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make its Microsoft News platform as unbiased as possible. One of the measures taken by the company was replacing its human editors with artificial intelligence (AI). However, it seems the AI the company uses is not doing a good job at differentiating between mixed race people.
Specifically, The Guardian reports the AI editor failed to tell the difference between two mixed race members of the pop group Little Mix. Microsoft News AI published a story that was about Little Mix member Jade Thirlwall's problems facing racism.
However, the published story had a photo of fellow Little Mix band mate Leigh-Anne Pinnock. Thirlwell noticed the mistake and complained on Twitter.
“This sh*t 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 colour out of four members of a group … DO BETTER!”
What's more embarrassing for Microsoft's AI is the original story it sourced did show the correct person. So, perhaps Microsoft News was better off with human editors? When the company announced it was replacing humans with machines, it said the AI was more adept:
AI understands the “dimensions like freshness, category, topic type, opinion content and potential popularity and then presents it for our editors. Our algorithms suggest appropriate photos to pair with content to help bring stories to life. Editors then curate the top stories throughout the day, across a variety of topics, so our readers get the latest news from the best sources.”
Microsoft's embarrassment over the situation has been compacted. Microsoft News AI is now finding the repeated stories of its mistake and publishing them. Microsoft possibly has the algorithm set to publish stories where MSN is mentioned. Clearly this was meant to be for positive stories and not negative ones.
The Guardian says the company has now deployed human editors to remove the stories.