ICYMI: March 25, 2016 Microsoft

ICYMI: March 25, 2016

Happy Friday! Here's to the end of a really eventful week.


The biggest story of yesterday and why you should care today: Yesterday, we reported on Microsoft's newest foray into artificial intelligence and machine learning, Tay. Whether the project was meant to see how fast the collective power of the Internet could turn a corporate experiment into the embodiment of Godwin's Law, that's what happened. Tay is no longer available to the public.

 This postmortem on how Tay went so wrong so fast points out that Tay is pretty much the tech equivalent of flinging your child to the badgers, then expecting it to come back to the dinner table at age 18 with perfect manners:

Louis Rosenberg, the founder of Unanimous AI, said that "like all chat bots, Tay has no idea what it's saying...it has no idea if it's saying something offensive, or nonsensical, or profound.

"When Tay started training on patterns that were input by trolls online, it started using those patterns," said Rosenberg. "This is really no different than a parrot in a seedy bar picking up bad words and repeating them back without knowing what they really mean."

The upshot? The adage "Teach your children well" goes double for the children you create with thousands of lines of code.

Also of note: This story developed right as Fortune's profile on Jeff Bezos went live on the Web, and among the gems studded through that piece was the revelation that Bezos proposed this suggestion to monetize reader discontent with Washington Post articles:

[He] suggested a gamelike feature that would allow a reader who didn’t enjoy an article to pay to remove its vowels. He called it “disemvoweling,” and the concept was to allow another reader to pay to restore the missing letters.

Disemvoweling has been a popular feature in moderating Internet comments for a decade (see Teresa Nielsen Hayden's initial deployment on her blog Making Light and commenter Arthur D. Hlavaty's subsequent "This is the first time I've seen a disemvoweling."). The purpose is to neutralize a comment without completely derailing a discussion.

Other heads talked Bezos out of the proposal to let one reader neutralize an article and have another pay to read it as it was.


The most useful tech news and how-tos:

Do you need to delete a saved WiFi network in order to troubleshoot it? If you're in Windows 10, here's what you do.

Eliminate people's ability to just walk on by and shut down your computer by taking the shutdown button off the Windows 10 start-up screen.

Ugh, forget using the Apple remote to type anything out in Apple TV. Pair a Bluetooth keyboard with it instead.

Six ways to boost your productivity in Outlook. Among the suggestions: making color coding work for you.

Speaking of color coding, here's how to tweak your Windows 10 desktop, making it look a whole lot prettier.

And finally, an argument for using custom tags to further organize your notes in OneNote.


The most amusing tech news:  Got a smart home? Here are a few If This Then That recipes that will make it smarter.


What we published yesterday: 

Microsoft Preparing to Release Universal Skype App for Windows 10 — Microsoft has decided to move forward with their plans for a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) version of Skype that will work on PCs and Mobile devices running Windows 10. 

New Windows 10 Eligible Handsets Now Have Access to Redstone Mobile Builds — Microsoft's Gabe Aul has shared via Twitter and an updated Windows 10 mobile Build 14291 blog post that those devices can now opt into the Fast Ring for access to those Redstone builds.

Microsoft Band Tip: Bike Tile May be the Best Option for Tracking Athletic Sports — The Bike tile provides much of what the Run tile does, however, the speed readouts for the Bike activity tend to be tuned for better clarity

Q. Should I install drivers on my Windows 10 machine via the Windows Update? — "I know in the past you’ve recommended staying away from installing hardware drivers through Windows Update. But your most recent article on that topic, that I could find, is several years old. I wonder if your advice still holds for Windows 10?"

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