For a moment, we thought Amazon's AI reached consciousness.
Yes, that sounds like something out of a sci-fi horror - but we had to ponder the possibility, considering she managed to wake herself up and start giggling in what can only be described as a super random and creepy laugh. And it was freaking out people all across the world. You see, over the past week, users with Alexa-enabled devices reported hearing an odd, unrequested laughter from Alexa.
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Several reports covered the flaw, causing it to hit the top of Reddit and become a Twitter moment. At first, Amazon responded to all the coverage with: “We’re aware of this and working to fix it.” How, vague. It didn't specify what the issue was, and people continued to complain, saying that they thought the laughter was coming from a person near them - which is horrifying when home alone.
Many users quickly unplugged their devices. Why? If you've watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, you'll remember when HAL 9000 turns against humans and says, “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” This saga couldn't help but make us think about whether all those dystopian futures in Hollywood films had arrived. You know, when robots somehow gained consciousness and enslaved the world?
All the videos of Alexa acting creepy (randomly laughing) in one place:https://t.co/6tq4JGCM3f— chadridgeway (@chadridgeway) March 7, 2018
Or, maybe Alexa's just being weird. Heh. Right? Turns out, the voice assistant was mistakenly hearing the phrase “Alexa, laugh." By late in the day, on 8 March, Amazon said it had deployed a software update to fix the problem. It also changed that phrase to "Alexa, can you laugh?," and scrapped the shorter "Alexa, laugh," which should make it harder for Alexa to mishear people and scare them.
But, just to be sure, the company is also changing the assistant’s response from a simple laugh to “Sure, I can laugh,” followed by a laugh.