Microsoft calls deceased NBA player ‘useless’ in AI-written obituary

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Microsoft calls deceased NBA player ‘useless’ in AI-written obituary


Microsoft has been criticised after publishing an AI-generated obituary for NBA star Brandon Hunter.

The former Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic player passed away suddenly this week, aged 42, after collapsing during a hot yoga class in Orlando, Fl.

Shortly after his passing, fans were shocked to see the father of three described as “useless” in an obituary published on MSN.

The headline read:

  • “Brandon Hunter useless at 42.”
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Why we care. MSN laid off two dozen editorial staff a few years ago with plans to replace the writers with generative AI, reports the Guardian. This case highlights the importance of not relying solely on AI for generating content due to factual inaccuracies and problematic errors, and the need to ensure that all work produced by AI is supervised by humans.

Failure to do so could harm your brand’s reputation and potentially result in lawsuits.

Incomprehensible. While the MSN headline was offensive, the rest of the article was incoherent. It read:

  • “Former NBA participant, Brandon Hunter, who beforehand performed for the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, has handed away on the age of 42, as introduced by Ohio male’s basketball coach Jeff Boals on Tuesday.”
  • “Hunter, initially a extremely regarded high school basketball participant in Cincinnati, achieved vital success as a ahead for the Bobcats.”

Reputational damage. Despite swiftly removing the article from the MSN website, Microsoft was criticised on social media for publishing the offensive content:

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What has Microsoft said? A Microsoft spokesperson told Search Engine Land:

  • “The accuracy of the content we publish from our partners is important to us, and we continue to enhance our systems to identify and prevent inaccurate information from appearing on our channels. The story in question has been removed.”

However, the company is yet to officially apologise.

Deep dive. Read Julia McCoy’s guide on whether AI-generated content should be labelled, and Britney Muller and Dave Davies’ thoughts on how AI will change SEO as a profession for more information.

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About the author

Nicola Agius

Nicola Agius is Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land after joining in 2023. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company’s editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book ‘Mastering In-House SEO’.

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