Taylor Swift has been involved in quite a few legal actions. But one that never got off the ground may be the most interesting.
The strange tale of a threatening Taylor Swift is included in a new book by Microsoft president Brad Smith.
In Tools and Weapons, Smith relates the story of how Microsoft developed a U.S. version of its popular Chinese chatbot ‘XiaoIce’ back in 2016. That chatbot was designed to hold conversations over social media. Microsoft called their newest chatbot ‘Tay’.
But this swiftly got Microsoft into trouble with a certain diva and her legal team. As Smith was about to have dinner while on vacation, he received an email from Swift’s lawyer. The lawyer told Smith that the term ‘Tay’ was closely associated with Swift and that Microsoft’s use of it was creating a misleading association between Swift and the chatbot. Swift’s attorney insisted violated federal and state laws.
However, Swift and her legal team never commenced legal proceedings against the company, and the reasons likely had to do with the scandal that quickly led to Tay’s demise.
Tay, which used AI technology to improve the conversations it had with users, fell victim to what Smith calls “a small group of American pranksters.” They began flooding the chatbot with alt-right language, which it unwittingly repeated. This included not only 9/11 conspiracy theories and Donald Trump campaign slogans, but also racist language, such as referring to then President Obama as a “monkey.”
After less than a day of this language, Microsoft decided to kill Tay by disconnecting the chatbot from its Twitter account, and they never again heard from Swift or her lawyer.
That Swift would attempt to claim ownership of “Tay” is certainly believable.
In the past, she has tried to trademark such terms as “This sick beat,” “Nice to meet you. Where you been?” and “1989.” The last term was the year of her birth.