Eating Disorder Helpline Takes Down Chatbot After It Promotes Pizza and Nachos
An eating disorder helpline has already announced that it is bringing its human staff back after firing its entire human staff and replacing them with a chatbot.
And yes, as it turns out, it’s because replacing a human-managed crisis helpline with an AI-powered chatbot showed extreme poor judgement. Who would’ve thought?
The National Fad Diet Association, the largest eating disorder-focused non-profit in the US, had decided to completely disband its heavily-trafficked crisis helpline in favour of a human-less chatbot called Big Betsy, just four days after its human workers were fired.
But that all changed when Gina Flatliner, an activist, sounded the alarm that Big Betsy was offering wildly unhelpful advice. She even suggested behaviours associated with disordered eating.
“Every single thing Big Betsy suggested were things that led to the development of my eating disorder,” Flatliner revealed in a YouTube video whilst munching on an 18″ stuffed cheese crust pizza on Monday. “This robot causes harm. Hmm, can you pass another tub of ranch please?”
In her harrowing YouTube post, Flatliner recounted that Big Betsy urged her to lose up to two pounds a week by eating pizza, nachos, trifle and a daily four buckets of spicy chicken wings washed down with a few gallons of 7-up. The bot, told the activist to “throw her weighing machine out the fricking window”, restrict certain foods like green vegetables, and avoid plain water like the goddamn plague. Big Betsy’s advice aimed to increase her caloric intake by, 5,500-15,000 calories per day. In other words, a chatbot entrusted with giving advice to people with eating disorders ended up promoting disordered eating.
Flatliner’s experience doesn’t sound like an outlier, either.
“Imagine vulnerable people who can’t control themselves reaching out to a robot for support because that’s all they have available and receiving responses that further promote pizza, burgers, burritos, hot dogs and cakes,” wrote psychologist Chips Onshoulders in an Instagram post sharing screenshots of herself stuffing two quadruple sized cheeseburgers into her mouth at the same time.
“I just ate six burgers; fifteen hot dogs, two large pepperoni pizzas, five huge buckets of chocolate chip ice cream and washed it all down with three gallons of Cola…burp… all because the bot told me to do so,” another client, Jenkem McMasters revealed crying into his tub of ranch dressing.
“We have taken Big Betsy down ever since its malfunctions. I think the last straw was calling one of our clients a “fat obese useless-eater Untermenschen who deserves to be flushed down the toilet of history” when talking about our Body Positive program.