July 24, 2024

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Breaking Down Cyber Walls: Microsoft’s AI CEO Terms Web Content as ‘Freeware’ for AI Training

2 min read


In a revolutionary shift of perspectives, Kevin Scott, Microsoft’s AI CEO, recently declared publicly that web content not protected by a robots.txt file is essentially ‘freeware’ for artificial intelligence (AI) training. This assertion provides ground-breaking insights into how major tech companies are dealing with data sourcing for their AI algorithms.

In the vast, ever-evolving digital landscape, data is continually consumed, created, and harvested for a multitude of purposes – with one of the most prominent uses being AI training. The crux of AI is based on data; without enough data to train on, AI systems wouldn’t have the capacity to learn and evolve.

This brings us to the question: where is all this data coming from? Large corporations like Microsoft, Google, and others mine data from several sources. One contentious aspect of this data-mining has always been web scraping – the usage of bots to extract data from other sites.

The linchpin holding this discussion together is the robots.txt file. This file, which is part of the Robots Exclusion Standard (RES), gives web site owners control over what web robots can do. However, many websites lack this file, leaving them open to web scraping.

According to Scott, any content not protected by a robots.txt file becomes ‘freeware’ – free for use in AI training. His comments have sparked intense discussions about data privacy, ownership, and security.


The assertion by Microsoft’s AI CEO is a wake-up call for every website owner. It underscores the importance of having a robots.txt file as a defense against web scraping and to maintain control over your content.

However, it also raises issues about the ethics behind AI training and practices. Questions about data sourcing and privacy remain critical concerns. AI technology has many wonders to offer, but at what cost to privacy and autonomy?

Ultimately, this ongoing discussion emphasizes the necessity for a more transparent and ethical approach to AI training.

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