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13 Epic Fails by Artificial Intelligence Technology

The age of the robots may be on its way, but the road is not without its challenges.

There is plenty of technology fails that show AI isn’t quite there yet.

From issues with Alexa through to more pressing concerns related to the future of technology, here’s a list of 13 AI technology fails.

Alexa Orders all the Dolls Houses

What happened: A TV advert created by Amazon triggered Alexa devices in the US to order a Dolls House on behalf of 100s of Customers. Whoops!

When did it happen: 2017

Robot College Fail

What happened: In Japan, a team of researchers was developing AI to pass college admission tests. The hope was that the system would be able to attend University and pass exams.

However, when completing the tests, the AI failed to get a test score high enough for admission into any of the colleges. Two years later they tried again but with little improvement. The rating was still not high enough to get into any college.

Oh dear.

When did it happen: 2016

Self Driving Car Causes Death

What happened: A self-driving car from Uber’s fleet killed a pedestrian in the US. This sparked an ethical debate into who is responsible for the death if it was caused by an unmanned vehicle.

The debate continues and is an example of how the legal system needs to develop to be prepared to deal with some of the ethical challenges resulting from technology advances.

When did it happen: 2018

Creating AI Deepfakes

What happened: This one is not so much a failure of technology. Actually, the technology is incredible.

However, the problem here is that the images created by the deep learning processes used in deep fakes make them indistinguishable from actual photographs of people.

The fail, in this case, comes when people are interpreting what they are seeing as the truth. This in itself leads to a host of ethical challenges relating to how the tech is used.

When did it happen: 2018

Don’t worry though, not all images created by AI are at the deep fake level! A tool developed by Google for combining images using AI managed to mistake a skier for a mountain peak.

Check out the result below.

deepfake image, source: Reddit

Amazon Gender Bias

What happened: Amazon tried to streamline it’s hiring process by developing AI to filter down CVs of potential applicants. However, while they were testing the effectiveness of the algorithm, they realized it was biased against women. What they discovered was, the algorithm was rejecting sure CVs due to certain traits.

An example of this was including the word ‘netball’ in the hobbies section. What they realized was that the training set was biased. As a result, the project was scrapped.

When did it happen: 2018

ID of Asian Travellers Technology Fail

What happened: Facial recognition software used at checkpoints was rejecting people of Asian decent due to the shape of their eyes.

The AI was flagging the person as having their eyes closed. This showed the training data used for the algorithm had not been diverse and therefore the system failed.

This is another example of the importance of diversity in tech to create ethical AI.

When did it happen: 2016

Healthcare Fail

What happened: When IBM Watson tried to launch its medical AI recommendation system for patients with cancer, doctors pulled the plug on the network. They realised it was making inaccurate treatment recommendations that could prove fatal to patients.

When did it happen: 2018

Tech Medicine GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A Big Technology Fail When Chatbots language

What happened: Facebook created a pair of chatbots and got them talking. Shortly after, having been left to their own devices, they developed their own language. People were not able to understand what they were saying to one another, and it was scary! Facebook shut down the bots. Good job too!

When did it happen: 2017

Alexa Causes the Police to be Called

What happened: Police were called to a house in Germany that was expected of throwing a loud all-night party. Turned out Alexa had just decided to host her own rave and was playing music at 3am without her owner’s knowledge. Cheeky Alexa!

When did it happen: 2017

Fun fact – this also happened to a friend of mine. When her partner was away travelling he triggered their Alexa to play music in their flat not realizing it was 2:30am on a weekday. Whoops!

Robot falls over

What happened: We’ve all had that on stage nightmare when we fall over. That nightmare became a reality when Boston dynamics was unveiling one of their latest robots designed to move with agility over obstacles.
The demo itself was perfect, then just as the robot was leaving the stage, it tripped and fell off. Bless it! Our hearts go out to you dude, so embarrassing.

When did it happen: 2017

World Cup Fail

What happened: The World Cup is a big deal. This tournament is a significant event in many across the world. It attracts a lot of gamblers betting on who will win.

Undoubtedly an excellent opportunity to show the power of AI predictions?

As it turns out, no. Technology developed top predict the outcome of each match within the world cup got almost all of them wrong.

Now I know England did way better than anyone could have anticipated, but still all of them wrong? That’s pretty bad.

When did it happen: 2018

Foolish Fc Barcelona GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Apple ID Fail

What happened: All suspicious partners and parents will rejoice in the knowledge that the famed Apple facial recognition ID system was fooled by a plastic mask. This technology fail is not ideal if you like your privacy.

When did it happen: 2017

Alexa Plays Porn Instead of Children’s Song

What happened: This has to be one of my favorites. When requested to play ‘Digger Digger’ by an adorable and unsuspecting little boy, Alexa played porn.

There’s not a lot else I have to say about this fail, but you should definitely check it out, the link’s below.

When did it happen: 2017

As you can see technology doesn’t always have the answer. But as the proverb goes, if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.

This technology can help us to learn more and innovate for the future.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that there are plenty of examples where technology has been able to help us out.

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From issues with Alexa through to concerns related to the future of technology, here’s a list of 15 AI technology fails. How many do your remember? Click to test yourself!


  1. 3rd June 2019 / 9:34 am

    Hey Great article,

    Thanks a lot for sharing the same.

    • Claire Elizabeth
      3rd June 2019 / 9:36 am

      Glad you enjoyed it! Which was your favourite?

  2. 17th June 2019 / 12:44 pm

    Hey Great article,

    Thanks a lot for sharing this great post with all of us.

    I like your insights.

  3. 17th June 2019 / 12:44 pm

    Hey Great article, I like your insights.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this great post with all of us.

    • Claire Elizabeth
      17th June 2019 / 1:55 pm

      Thanks 😊

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