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Fake AI-Generated Woman Causes Conference Speakers to Back Out

Leaders at Microsoft and Amazon were set to speak until they learned at least one woman on the agenda did not exist.

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AP file

NEW YORK (AP) — Tech executives at Microsoft and Amazon have dropped out of an upcoming software conference after at least one of the women on the agenda turned out to be fake.

DevTernity organizer Eduards Sizovs admitted on social media that one of the featured speakers was an “auto-generated” woman with a fake title. He was responding to allegations about a number of suspicious profiles on his conference websites that appeared to be generated by artificial intelligence.

But he denied that the fake profile was intended to mask the “worse-than-expected level of diversity of speakers” in this year's lineup and refused to apologize in a series of posts on X, formerly Twitter. He didn't respond to emailed requests for comment Monday.

The revelation led other speakers to quickly drop out of the virtual conference that was supposed to start on Dec. 7.

“I found out that I was the only woman on the agenda, and some of the others advertised may not be real,” said Amazon Web Services executive Kristine Howard in a post on LinkedIn.

Microsoft executive Scott Hanselman said on X that he only speaks at conferences with an inclusive lineup but in this case was “duped by the fake speakers.”

He added, “I remind all tech conference organizers that there are THOUSANDS of speakers of all walks of life, genders, ages, and backgrounds.”

DevTernity was previously held each year in Riga, Latvia but has been online-only since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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