UK parcel firm disables AI after poetic bot goes rogue

UK parcel firm disables AI after poetic bot goes rogue
A man looks at his phone in view of the Palace of Westminster in London, Britain, Sept 22, 2023.
PHOTO: Reuters file

LONDON — A parcel delivery firm in Britain has disabled the artificial intelligence (AI) function in its online chat systems after a frustrated user coaxed the system into composing a poem about how bad the company's customer service was.

"There was once a chatbot named DPD, Who was useless at providing help," the bot wrote after Ashley Beauchamp gave up trying to get it to share a phone number for customer services and asked it to write a poem about bad chatbot service instead.

"DPD was a waste of time, And a customer's worst nightmare," the bot continued before concluding: "One day, DPD was finally shut down and everyone rejoiced. Finally they could get the help they needed, From a real person who knew what they were doing."

Beauchamp, a pianist and conductor, posted his exchange with the bot on social media platform X on Thursday (Jan 18), since when it has been viewed 1.1 million times.

He said he initially asked the bot to tell him a joke after failing to get information about the status of a parcel and when it did he asked it to write the poem about automated customer service failings. He also encouraged the bot to swear.

Beauchamp told ITV television he had still not received the parcel. "I think they might hold it hostage now. I wouldn't blame them," he said. "That's totally on me."

DPD UK said it had used an AI element within its chat system successfully for a number of years alongside its human customer service but an error had occurred after a system update.

"The AI element was immediately disabled and is currently being updated," the company said in a statement reported by ITV.

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