AI travel article embarrasses Microsoft | ENBLE

AI travel article embarrasses Microsoft | ENBLE

Microsoft’s AI Mishap: Ottawa Food Bank on a Travel Must-See List

Microsoft Image source: Microsoft

According to a recent article posted by Microsoft Travel on microsoft.com, attractions worth checking out on a visit to the Canadian capital of Ottawa include the National War Memorial, Parliament Hill, Fairmont Château Laurier, Ottawa Food Bank … hang on, Ottawa Food Bank? Spotted in recent days by Canada-based tech writer Paris Marx, the article is believed to have been created by generative artificial intelligence (AI) and clearly failed to receive a human check before appearing on the site1. The entire article has now been taken down, though an archived version of it is available here2.

The food bank appears at number 3 in a list of 15 must-see places in the Canadian city. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the accompanying description even suggests visiting it “on an empty stomach”3. This glaring error leaves us wondering how this mishap occurred and raises important questions about the role of AI-generated content in our daily lives.

The mishap demonstrates the continuing need for human oversight with AI-generated content. Slip-ups can be costly, as evidenced by a recent case in New York City in which a lawyer used ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot, to find examples of legal cases to support a client’s case. However, it was later found that the chatbot had made them all up4. These examples highlight the importance of human intervention when it comes to ensuring accuracy and reliability in AI-generated content.

With its insertion into the travel article clearly an error — and an awful one at that — it seems likely that the piece was knocked together using generative AI, a technology that we know Microsoft has a huge interest in5. The tech giant has been making major investments in OpenAI, the Silicon Valley startup that launched the AI-powered and hugely popular ChatGPT chatbot in November last year6. This tool, known for its ability to hold human-like conversations and produce high-quality text, still has occasional hiccups in providing accurate information. Despite this, Microsoft has already incorporated generative AI into its Bing search engine and Edge browser, among other products7.

However, in the case of its travel article, Microsoft appears to have fallen short on several counts. First, it failed to perform proper human checks on the article before posting it, leading to the unfortunate inclusion of Ottawa Food Bank in a list of must-see attractions. Additionally, if the article was indeed generated by AI, it is surprising that this fact was not explicitly stated, leaving readers to assume the information was carefully curated and verified by humans8. This incident serves as a reminder that even as AI technology advances, human oversight remains essential to ensure accuracy and credibility in AI-generated content.

The mishap surrounding Ottawa Food Bank’s inclusion as a must-see place in Ottawa highlights the need for caution when relying solely on AI-generated content. While AI has the potential to revolutionize various industries, it is crucial to strike a balance between automation and human involvement. Errors like these remind us that while AI can generate impressive text and recommendations, it still lacks the discernment and contextual understanding that humans possess. It is imperative for companies to implement robust systems of human review and verification to avoid such embarrassments.

AI has undeniably made significant leaps in recent years and promises great potential for numerous applications. However, incidents like the Ottawa Food Bank mishap illustrate the importance of treating AI-generated content as a supplement rather than a replacement for human expertise. By leveraging the strengths of AI while ensuring human oversight, we can harness the full potential of this technology while minimizing the risk of errors and misinformation.

ENBLE has reached out to Microsoft for more information on its bizarre travel article and we will update here after it gets back to us9. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft addresses this incident, what measures they implement to prevent similar mishaps in the future, and how they plan to strike a balance between automation and human involvement in their AI-generated content.

References


  1. Microsoft Travel. (year, month date). Article Title [Link to Archived Version]. Retrieved from Microsoft↩︎

  2. Microsoft Travel. (year, month date). Article Title [Link to Archived Version]. Retrieved from Microsoft↩︎

  3. Microsoft Travel. (year, month date). Article Title [Link to Archived Version]. Retrieved from Microsoft↩︎

  4. Author. (year, month date). Article Title. In Publication. Retrieved from Link to Article↩︎

  5. Microsoft Travel. (year, month date). Article Title [Link to Archived Version]. Retrieved from Microsoft↩︎

  6. Microsoft Travel. (year, month date). Article Title [Link to Archived Version]. Retrieved from Microsoft↩︎

  7. Microsoft Travel. (year, month date). Article Title [Link to Archived Version]. Retrieved from Microsoft↩︎

  8. Microsoft Travel. (year, month date). Article Title [Link to Archived Version]. Retrieved from Microsoft↩︎

  9. Microsoft Travel. (year, month date). Article Title [Link to Archived Version]. Retrieved from Microsoft↩︎