Smoke and flames fill the sky as a fire burns at the Notre Dame Cathedral during the visit by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (Philippe Wojazer/Pool via AP)

(Photo credit: Philippe Wojazer/Pool via AP)

YouTube's Notre Dame-9/11 Flub Highlights AI's Blind Spots

April 16, 2019

SAN BRUNO (AP) — Internet users who tuned in to YouTube to watch live video of Notre Dame Cathedral on fire might have been surprised to see background information about 9/11 attached to the footage.

The culprit: an automated YouTube system recently put in place to combat conspiracy theories and fake material that spreads in the wake of some news events.

YouTube says the background information — consisting of an entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica — was mistakenly placed there by the system's algorithms and was quickly taken down.

But the incident is the latest example of artificial intelligence misfiring, and a sign that we have a long way to go before AI becomes smart enough to understand nuance and context.