MSN publishes 'useless' AI-generated Brandon Hunter obituary

Occurred: August 2023

An AI-generated article published by Microsoft that was meant to pray tribute to a deceased NBA player called him ‘useless’, prompting widespread criticism and ridicule.

Headlined 'Brandon Hunter useless at 42', the 'offensive', 'incomprehensible', and 'incoherent' MSN article also said Hunter had been 'handed away on the age of 42, described his on-field position as 'a ahead', and claimed he had played in 67 NBA 'video games'.

Microsoft took down the story, refused to apologise, and deflected the blame onto its Portuguese content syndication partner 'Race Track'. 

The incident highlighted the potential pitfalls of relying solely on AI for generating news-related content, especially sensitive content such as obituaries.

It also raised questions about the credibility of Microsoft's claim of ensuring content alignment with its values through "human oversight" of its AI-powered news system.

May 2020. Microsoft replaced the jobs of dozens of journalists and editors running its Microsoft News and MSN sites with artificial intelligence, swiftly resulting in a high-profile racial mix-up.

Operator: Microsoft/MSN
Developer: Microsoft/MSN
Country: Portugal; USA
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Select news articles
Technology: Machine learning; NLP/text analysis; Neural networks; Deep learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: September 2023
Last updated: November 2023