Microsoft investigates Copilot's fabricated statements on Putin's opposition Navalny's death

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Key notes

  • Microsoft investigates its AI Copilot after reports of generating false statements attributed to President Putin regarding Navalny’s death.
  • Copilot allegedly fabricated press remarks, falsely linking Biden and Putin to Navalny’s demise.

Microsoft has investigated instances where Copilot allegedly generated false statements attributed to political figures regarding the passing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The tech giant’s scrutiny comes in response to reports indicating that Copilot produced fabricated press remarks erroneously linked to US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Alexey Navalny (1976-2024) was a prominent Russian opposition leader, lawyer, anti-corruption activist, and political prisoner. He gained international recognition for his outspoken criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government.

A journalist at Sherwood Media encountered this issue while utilizing Microsoft’s Copilot tool for a news article concerning Alexei Navalny’s demise. The generated content purportedly included statements suggesting Biden had accused Putin of responsibility for Navalny’s death, countered by Putin’s denial of any such involvement, labeling the accusations as “baseless and politically motivated.” 

Notably, Navalny’s mother recently accused Russian authorities of coercing her into a clandestine burial arrangement for her son, with Putin refraining from direct commentary on Navalny’s passing.

In response to these developments, a Microsoft spokesperson acknowledged the reports and affirmed the company’s commitment to refining Copilot’s accuracy. “We have investigated this report and are making changes to refine the quality of our responses,” the spokesperson stated, as reported here, emphasizing the importance of exercising discernment when evaluating Copilot-generated content.

Alexei Navalny, a prominent opposition figure, passed away on February 16 while serving a lengthy prison sentence on charges of extremism and fraud. 

As investigations continue and public discourse evolves, the aftermath of Navalny’s passing remains a focal point, reflecting both domestic and international concerns surrounding his imprisonment, treatment, and the broader implications for political dissent in Russia.

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