Robot editor for Microsoft confuses mixed-race Little Mix stars

Faye Dixon June 9, 2020
Robot editor for Microsoft confuses mixed-race Little Mix stars
Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

A Microsoft robot editor posted an image of the wrong mixed-race Little Mix star in a story about racism.

Recently, Microsoft announced that it was planning to replace some MSN journalists. Instead, artificial intelligence would be used.

However, this decision has led to an unfortunate mistake. The robot editor illustrated a news story about racism with the wrong photo.

In response to the decision to use AI technology, a Microsoft spokesperson told The Focus: “Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, re-deployment in others.

“These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic.”

Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage

Girlband member, Jade Thirlwall, recently appeared on the ‘No Country For Young Women‘ podcast. The singer spoke about how she experienced bullying in school. She explained this was because of her Arabian heritage.

MSN’s AI ran a story on this. However, instead of Jade, an image of band member Leigh-Anne Pinnock was featured. Leigh-Anne is of Barbadian and Jamaican ancestry.

Jade took to her Instagram page to criticise MSN. In a comment on the social media platform she said: “@MSN If you’re going to copy and paste articles from other accurate media outlets, you might want to make sure you’re using an image of the correct mixed-race member of the group.”

In a statement to The Focus regarding the image mix-up, a Microsoft spokesperson said: “As soon as we became aware of this issue, we immediately took action to resolve it and have replaced the incorrect image.

“Whilst removing bias and improving accuracy remain an area of focus for AI research, this mistake was not a result of these issues. In testing a new feature to select an alternate image, rather than defaulting to the first photo, a different image on the page of the original article was paired with the headline of the piece. This made it erroneously appear as though the headline was a caption for the picture.

“As soon as we became aware of this issue, we immediately took action to resolve it, replaced the incorrect image and turned off this new feature.”

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