Microsoft president says Taylor Swift “tried to sue” them over controversial AI chatbot Tay


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Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift had attempted to press charges against Microsoft for the chatbot “Tay” launched by the company a few years ago. The chatbot’s Twitter account under the handle “TayTweets” had created quite a buzz back in 2016. However, after Tay went rogue and started making racist comments on Twitter, the chatbot was immediately taken offline.

Although the whole incident of Swift trying to sue took place nearly three years ago, it resurfaced and came to the limelight after Microsoft president Brad Smith’s new book “Tools and Weapons” mentioned this incident.

Taylor Swift primarily had an issue with the fact that Microsoft had named their chatbot “Tay” which Swift apparently thought was similar to her name.

Moreover, the chatbot was primarily meant to interact with a relatively younger audience in the age groups of 18 to 24 who were also coincidentally the age group that connected with Swift’s music.

Microsoft controlled their chatbot through AI and trained it to learn from the various conversations and exchanges taking place on social media. Not long after it went live, the chatbot broke bad and started making bold statements through its Twitter handle that included racist comments, supporting genocide, and Tay also announced that she didn't didn’t think the holocaust happened.

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As this gave bad press for Microsoft, the company immediately issued an apology and took the chatbot offline.

Based on the excerpt from Smith’s new book, here’s how he realized about Swift’s decision to pursue Microsoft legally:

“I was on vacation when I made the mistake of looking at my phone during dinner. An email had just arrived from a Beverly Hills lawyer who introduced himself by telling me: ‘We represent Taylor Swift, on whose behalf this is directed to you. The name Tay, as I'm sure you must know, is closely associated with our client.’”

According to Smith, it was revealed that the popstar’s lawyer accused Microsoft of violating federal and state laws by misleading the association between the chatbot and the singer.

This hasn’t been the first copyright-related incident for Taylor Swift. The pop star and her legal team are notorious for their strict approach towards protecting her intellectual property rights and going great distances to try and trademark phrases such as “nice to meet you” and “where have you been” as well.

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Naga Pramod

Naga Pramod is a computer science major and tech news reporter with a passion for cyber security, networking, and data science. [email protected]