From VeryRussianTochkaNet, a funny account (with pictures) of an AI glitch that had a young man reading his own obituary:

Yandex, the largest Russian search engine, has an AI script that automatically creates media profiles of politicians and other prominent people by analysing news stories which mention them. It’s a great idea, I haven’t heard of something like that existing elsewhere. However, it’s still in beta, and a few days ago, the AI made a spectacular mistake when it listed the youth political activist Ilya Yashin as having committed suicide. Yashin himself was the first to discover that, according to his Yandex media profile, he had died on November 23…
Underneath the date of his “death”, there’s a snippet of a news story that says he and Maria Gaidar hanged themselves under a bridge in Moscow… the mistake wouldn’t have occurred if the reported hadn’t tried to be funny. Puns and twists of meaning in headings and first paragraphs are a common thing in Russian journalism; it often makes news more interesting to read, though it gets annoying when overdone. Saying they hanged themselves, povesilis’, is whimsical, stretching the Russian language for the sake of effect. You can’t explain that to an AI script, of course.

What Yashin and Gaidar were hanging was actually a banner attacking Putin; you can read about it here. (N.b.: puns in headlines are not just a Russian thing.)


  1. One of Leo Rosten’s classic H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N stories hangs on the same ambiguity, in Yinglish this time: one of Mr. Kaplan’s sentences in his ESL class is “Hang yourself in reception hall, please”, which sends his fellow-students into orgies of hilarity. When Mr. Kaplan finally gets the joke, his only comment is “If som pipple should come to mine house, that is exactel what I should say.”

Speak Your Mind