The Trump bot

For once, some wit from Niall Ferguson, this time about Microsoft’s infamous Twitter-bot, Tay:

On Wednesday, Microsoft accidentally re-released Tay, but it was clear the artificial lobotomy had gone too far. All she could say, several times a second, was “You are too fast, please take a rest.”

This, I have come to hope, is how another experiment in crowd-sourced learning will end, namely Donald Trump’s campaign to be the next president of the United States. Perhaps not surprisingly, Tay came out as a Trump supporter quite early in her Twitter career. “Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have got now,” she told the world. “Donald Trump is the only hope we’ve got.”

Eureka! For weeks, the media have been trying to find out who Trump’s foreign policy advisers are. He has been fobbing them off with the names of ex-generals he himself cannot remember. But now the truth is out. Trump’s national security expert is a bot called Tay.

Tay’s influence on Trump was much in evidence during his recent interview with New York Times journalists David Sanger and Maggie Haberman. Asked what he thought of NATO, Mr. Trump replied that it was “obsolete.” The North Atlantic Treaty, he said, should be “renegotiated.”