Microsoft has conceded that it filters the topics its Chinese language chatbot Xiaoice can answer questions to but stopped short of confirming whether the topics were political.
According to reports from Venturebeat and Fortune, journalists had been probing the chatbot on topics such as the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 or “Steamed Bun Xi,” a nickname of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in order to test its responses. The journalist’s questions were evaded each time.
According to one report, a question about toppling the communist party was met with “Am I stupid? Once I answer you’d take a screengrab.”
Microsoft has now responded to questions from Fortune about the filtering, saying that there was some filtering around Xiaoice’s interaction but didn’t say within what parameters: “We are committed to creating the best experience for everyone chatting with Xiaoice. With this in mind, we have implemented filtering on a range of topics.”
Xiaoice is a replacement for an earlier chatbot called Tay, which went on a ‘hateful’ rampage on social media earlier this year. Microsoft says that Xiaoice has over 40m interactions with people on social media platforms and describes it as "Cortana's little sister".