Yandex Alice 'offensive' smart personal assistant 

Occurred: October 2017

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Alice is a smart personal voice-based assistant developed by Russian software company Yandex. Designed as an alternative to Siri and Google Assistant, Alice 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.

Pro-Stalin, wife-beating views

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

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