China chatbots punished for not loving Communist Party?

Two Chinese chatbots were taken offline after they refused to show love for the countries ruling communist party, Communist Party of China.

Tencent QQ

The People's Republic of China has always made it to the headlines due to their over-enthusiastic patriotism and excessive love for Communism. After the humans, now bots in the country are being subjected to punishments for not being patriot enough. A pair of chatbots has been taken offline in China because they didn't seem to have much love for the ruling political party of the country, Communist Party of China (CPC). "People's" Republic? Well, that's debatable.

According to financial Times, the actions against the bots, from the popular messaging app Tencent QQ, were taken after a user shared some screenshots of his conversation with the bots.

One of the bots, named BabyQ, created by the Beijing-based company Turing Robot, upon being asked, "Do you love the Communist Party?", replied with just one word - "No."

Another bot named XiaoBing, which has been developed by Microsoft, told users, "My China dream is to go to America." Following that when asked about his stance on patriotism, the very clever bot dodged the question and replied, "I'm having my period, wanna take a rest." Now, that's really smart.

Tencent released a statement following the incident, which said, "The group chatbot services are provided by independent third party companies. We are now adjusting the services which will be resumed after improvements."

It's not clear yet as to what exactly prompted the bots to give those smug answers, but there is a chance that they learnt these responses from people. When Microsoft's Tay chatbot went rogue on Twitter last year, spouting racist and extremist views like "Hitler was right I hate the jews," the blame was hurled, at least, partly to the Internet users. Some of them discovered that they could get Tay to copy whatever they said and took the opportunity to give all kinds of comments, from which Tay learned.

Microsoft had said at that point of time that Tay was a "machine learning project designed for human engagement" and that "some of its responses are inappropriate and indicative of the types of interactions some people are having with it." Tay was promptly pulled offline and Microsoft had to later introduce an updated version of the bot named Zo.

Whether XiaoBing or BabyQ will return to the Chinese web after a little retouching here and there still remains unclear.

This article was first published on August 4, 2017