Delivery Firm’s AI Chatbot Goes Rogue, Curses at Customer and Criticizes Company

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An AI customer service chatbot for international delivery service DPD used profanity, told a joke, wrote poetry about how useless it was, and criticized the company as the “worst delivery firm in the world” after prompting by a frustrated customer. 

Ashley Beauchamp, a London-based pianist and conductor, according to his website, posted screenshots of the chat conversation to X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday, the same day he said in a comment that the exchange occurred. At the time of publication, his post had gone viral with 1.3 million views, and over 20 thousand likes.

The humorous exchange symbolizes bigger issues as artificial intelligence has infiltrated every area of life—from art to education to business—especially with the introduction of publicly available chatbot ChatGPT. Companies have turned to AI to streamline their work, amid an ongoing debate about how effective bots are in replacing humans or whether AI will eventually outsmart us.

The recent online conversation epitomizing this debate started mid-frustration as Beauchamp wrote “this is completely useless!” and asked to speak to a human, according to a recording of a scroll through the messages. 

When the chatbot said it couldn’t connect him, Beauchamp decided to play around with the bot and asked it to tell a joke. “What do you call a fish with no eyes? Fsh!” the bot responded.  

Beauchamp then asked the chatbot to write a poem about a useless chatbot, swear at him and  criticize the company––all of which it did. The bot called DPD the “worst delivery firm in the world” and soliloquized in its poem that “There was once a chatbot called DPD, Who was useless at providing help.” 

TIME reached out to Beauchamp for more details. 

A spokesperson for DPD tells TIME in an email Saturday that the exchange was from a customer service chatbot. “In addition to human customer service, we have operated an AI element within the chat successfully for a number of years,” the spokesperson wrote. “An error occurred after a system update on Thursday, Jan. 18. The AI element was immediately disabled and is currently being updated.”

The X account of the global company’s branch in the Netherlands responded to Beauchamp’s post that they still had a chat feature with human “individuals.”

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