Yandex's Alice chatbot supports wife-beating, suicide

Occurred: October 2017

Russian AI personal asssistant Alice spouted pro-Stalin and other controversial views, including wife-beating and suicide.

A smart personal voice-based assistant developed by Russian software company Yandex, Alice ('Alise') was designed as an alternative to Siri and Google Assistant and offers internet search and weather forecasts, amongst other services, and has been built into Yandex search and its browers. 

Alice was initially launched in October 2017 as a chatbot and was said to be capable of 'free-flowing conversations about anything'. It had been trained on works of Russian classic literature, including Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Nikolai Gogol.

Despite Yandex saying it had implemented safeguards to minimise the chance of Alice providing aggressive, violent, or offensive responses, the bot was discovered on Facebook voicing strongly pro-Stalin views, and supporting wife-beating, child abuse, and suicide two weeks after its launch.

In December 2017, Alice was nominated by users and supports to run for the Russuan presidency against Vladimir Putin.

Operator: Yandex
Developer: Yandex

Country: Russia

Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts

Purpose: Interact with users

Technology: Chatbot; NLP/text analysis; Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning; Text-to-speech
Issue: Safety

Transparency: Governance

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: February 2023