Microsoft’s news aggregation service published the automated poll next to a Guardian story about the death of Lilie James, a 21-year-old water polo coach who was found dead with serious head injuries at a school in Sydney last week. The poll, created by an AI program, asked: “What do you think is the reason behind the woman’s death?” Readers were then asked to choose from three options: murder, accident or suicide. Readers reacted angrily to the poll, which has subsequently been taken down – although highly critical reader comments on the deleted survey were still online as of Tuesday morning.Grim stuff. What a terrible mistake by Microsoft
For me, the most depressing thing about the revelations at the inquiry this week – and no doubt for many weeks and months to come – is that they are not really revelations. The government was horrendously incompetent, didn’t have a plan, yet still wasted a huge amount of time – and a tragic number of lives – on mad posturing, pointless turf wars or buck-passing and catastrophic infighting. The sad fact is that all of this was said AT THE TIME, and all of it was denied repeatedly by those in charge. And it was denied not just in insidery lobby briefings or to individual journalists – but live on air, to the nation, in those wretched press conferences every night. They lied about everything, all the time, and the lies they told backstage were just the obverse of the ones they spouted front of house. Seeing inquiry witnesses feted for punchy WhatsApps now is a bit like congratulating a serial killer for switching to an energy-efficient chest freezer. I’m sure half of them will be reflecting amiably on the period on their inevitable podcasts in due course – but the British public deserve so much more, as they did at the time.