Obituary That Called Late NBA Player 'Useless' Sparks Firestorm

Social media users hurled criticism at Microsoft this week for what many thought was an AI-generated obituary for NBA player Brandon Hunter on its website MSN.

The controversy began after the obituary — which had a headline that read “Brandon Hunter useless at 42” written by “Editor” — appeared on the Microsoft-owned platform after Hunter’s death on Tuesday.

The obituary goes on to refer to the former Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic player having been “handed away on the age of 42” and claimed he “performed in 67 video games over two seasons and achieved a career-high of 17 factors in a recreation in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2004.”

The post appeared to follow a similar format to a story on TMZ Sports, Futurism noted, “albeit with altered punctuation and a use of synonyms so liberal that the result is essentially incomprehensible.”

You can compare both the obituary containing the error and the TMZ Sports story here.

The obituary stems from a website called Race Track, a site that Futurism noted has since disappeared along with the obituary on MSN.

The outlet pointed to other articles from Race Track including one that referred to Joy Taylor as “Pleasure Taylor” and NYU Langone Medical Center as “NYU Langone Medical Heart.” Futurism also cited several other instances of pieces on the site that appear to beswiped and reworkedfromother publications.

HuffPost has reached out to a website linked to Race Track’s MSN page — Auto Gear, a Portuguese auto magazine — for comment.

The obituary sparkeddebate on a number of Reddit communities over what led to its creation as users questioned whether it was a product of AI, a poor translation program or plagiarism.

“So they don’t proofread their AI, they just let it rock no matter what it says…very weird behavior lol,” wrote one user on Reddit.

“It looks like they took someone else’s article and put it in a word spinner that found a synonym for every word it could. ‘Ahead’ instead of ‘Forward’ ‘Handed’ instead of ‘Passed.’ So weird,” wrote someone else.

“AI should not be writing obituaries. Pay your damn writers @MSN,” wrote another user on X (formerly Twitter).

Microsoft, which unveiled a $10 billion investment in OpenAI earlier this year, has recently come under fire over concerns that it used AI in MSN articles.

The site featured a travel guide that recommended a Canadian food bank in Ottawa last month in what the company blamed on “a combination of algorithmic techniques with human review” and not “unsupervised AI,” according to The Verge.

Futurism previously reported that MSN fired “dozens” of journalists from its site in 2020 and wound up “syndicating large numbers of sloppy articles about topics as dubious as Bigfoot and mermaids.” MSN later wiped its site of the stories after the outlet reached out to them.

A spokesperson for Microsoft sent a statement to Los Angeles’ KTLA, writing, “The accuracy of the content we publish from our partners is important to us, and we continue to enhance our systems to identify and prevent inaccurate information from appearing on our channels. The story in question has been removed.”

HuffPost has reached out to Microsoft, which was not immediately available, for further comment.