Are there any real-world examples of unintentional "bad" AI behaviour? I'm not looking for hypothetical arguments of malicious AI (AI in a box, paperclip maximizer), but for actual instances in history where some AI directly did something bad due to its direct action that was not intended behavior.

Interpretations of the meaning of "AI", "bad", and "unintentional" are left open due to obvious reasons. Be free with your interpretation, but use some common sense please.

Ex: Microsoft Tay became a racist not too long after being hooked up to the internet, thanks to internet trolls "teaching" her bad things.

I can't think of any other instances. So the following examples are just hypothetical scenarios to demonstrate what I mean.

Ex: A self-driving car drove off-track after being presented with an adversarial example, crashing into people.

Ex: Surgery bot goes haywire and accidentally kills someone.

Ex: Weaponized drone targets civilians against its design.

  • $\begingroup$ Define bad. $\endgroup$
    – Rahul
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ question edited to address your problem. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ And that makes it even more broad. Does "bad" means unemployment or AI enslaving humans ? What exactly is it ? $\endgroup$
    – Rahul
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ I dunno. The examples you provide suggest you have an idea of what to expect, so do you have any examples of adversarial AI behaviour in the wild under those interpretations? "Be free with your interpretation, but use common sense please." $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ By "in the wild", you mean fully independent automata, not directed by humans? (i.e. partisan, adversarial investment algorithms are not "in the wild") I think the use of the idiom is good, but just wanted to make sure I'm understanding your meaning. $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 22:36

2 Answers 2


There is the case of the tesla accident where the car was in autopilot and crashed into a truck because it appears the vehicle mistook a lightly coloured truck for the sky, killing the driver: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2095740-tesla-driver-dies-in-first-fatal-autonomous-car-crash-in-us/

Having said that, it appears the car had been trying to tell the driver to pay attention: http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-crash-idUKKBN19A2XC


The infamous Flash Crash of 2010 may qualify.

It didn't involve Artificial General Intelligence (which is still a hypothetical) or even "strong narrow AI" (such as AlphaGo) but does involve algorithmic decision-making, which is a form of basic Artificial Intelligence.

Algorithmic trading already represents a significant percentage of all market activity, and I suspect that percentage will only increase.

From Business Insider: Algos could trigger the next stock market crash


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