Microsoft blames human error, not AI, for recommending tourists visit a food bank on an empty stomach

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(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft shared an article that recommended a food bank as a tourist attraction in Ottawa, Canada.
  • The piece suggested that people "consider going into [the food bank] on an empty stomach."
  • Microsoft has since removed the article and blamed human error for the publication of the piece.

Microsoft published an article highlighting Ottawa, Canada tourist attractions recently. Unfortunately, the piece included a recommendation that tourists visit a food bank. Making matters worse, the write-up suggested that attendees "consider going into [the food bank] on an empty stomach." The inclusion of the food bank and the line about having an empty stomach drew criticism and Microsoft pulled the article after it was flagged up by The Verge and other outlets. The Verge uploaded the full article on Imgur to make sure people can still see it.

X user Paris Marx spotted the strange recommendation first, though the linked article is no longer available.

Initially, artificial intelligence took the brunt of the blame for the piece getting published. Microsoft laid off several MSN journalists in 2020 as the company shifted to a reliance on AI-generated content. It seemed like the recent article was an example of that setup resulting in pieces of lower quality. That is likely true to an extent, but Microsoft clearly placed the blame on a human, not AI.

Microsoft Senior Director Jeff Jones shared the following with The Verge (emphasis added):

"This article has been removed and we have identified that the issue was due to human error. The article was not published by an unsupervised AI. We combine the power of technology with the experience of content editors to surface stories. In this case, the content was generated through a combination of algorithmic techniques with human review, not a large language model or AI system. We are working to ensure this type of content isn’t posted in future."

While the statement mentions a combination of "algorithmic techniques with human review," it explicitly places the blame on human error. The phrasing suggests that AI was used, but that it was supervised. Presumably, a human editor missed the insensitive inclusion and phrasing related to the food bank.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at

  • Arun Topez
    Sounds like a typical corporate PR statement to defend their AI initiatives lol. This is the problem with putting *almost* all your eggs in one basket. They're letting the rest of their products and services take a hit while focusing too much on AI and cloud, primarily for enterprises.