Amazon Alexa, the company’s artificial intelligence-powered voice assistant which is present on the Echo speakers, is creepily laughing for no explicit reason, according to user reports. Amazon has admitted this is an issue and promised it will roll out a fix to the problem. According to the posts on Twitter, users reported that Alexa was laughing without any command issued by the user. Some of them were decidedly freaked out given the speaker would suddenly laugh for no reason.
The company issued a statement to The Verge saying it was aware of the problem. Amazon later added it would disable the phrase “Alexa, laugh” and instead change the command to “Alexa, can you laugh?,” adds the same report. The statement adds that a change in phrase will ensure ‘less false positives’, though it should be noted that most users who have pointed out about Alexa laughing did not issue a command as such.
Smart speakers like the Echo or even Google Home, which is powered by the Google Assistant, rely on commands from the user to respond. So saying, ‘Hey Alexa read me the news from today,’ will prompt Alexa to carry out this task on the Echo speaker. Since Alexa is powered by AI, after the command is given, it will then go on to read the news for the user.
Alexa can also be given commands to carry out other tasks like buying things online from Amazon, creating a to-do list, and even read out books from the user’s Kindle collection. Of course, these actions take place when the user gives a particular command for the same. Alexa laughing for no reason has given users some cause for concern.
Check out the Twitter posts on the same below
— CaptHandlebar (@CaptHandlebar) February 23, 2018
“They just wanted to turn off the lights. ‘After the third request, Alexa stopped responding and instead did an evil laugh.'” 😳😳😳 https://t.co/PTtrYxSbbo
— Lisa Feierman (@lisathefeierman) March 6, 2018
so my mom & I are just sitting in the living room, neither of us said a word & our Alexa lit up and laughed for no reason. she didn’t even say anything, just laughed.
we unplugged her.
— taylor wade (@taylorkatelynne) March 5, 2018
Having an office conversation about pretty confidential stuff and Alexa just laughed. Anybody else ever have that?
It didn’t chime as if we had accidentally triggered her to wake. She simply just laughed. It was really creepy.
— David Woodland (@DavidSven) March 1, 2018
Lying in bed about to fall asleep when Alexa on my Amazon Echo Dot lets out a very loud and creepy laugh… there’s a good chance I get murdered tonight.
— Gavin Hightower (@GavinHightower) February 26, 2018
oh god, if you have an echo, ask “Alexa, can you laugh?” and you’ll hear the creepy “tee-hee” laugh that people are talking about. It’s unnerving.
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) March 7, 2018
Mine whistled up stairs in my bedroom. No one’s home besides me and my dogs. And my upstairs dog, I call her that because 1 dog stays downstairs at night to sleep on the couch lol. The other comes to bed at night with us. Alexa is in the trash, I thought I was losing my mind.
— The Nasty End Game (@Supermom1242) March 7, 2018
Amazon Alexa laughing for no reason is not the first time that these smart speakers have come under scrutiny. Previously the Google Home Mini speaker was caught eavesdropping on a journalist, who had got one of the early units, before the commercial release. The Home Mini speaker was found recording all phrases, words uttered in the house, even those from the television set and pinging them back to the Google servers. Google had later issued a fix for the same.
Echo, Google Assistant, Apple’s HomePod are all powered by digital assistants, which rely on machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve their interaction with the user. The devices also raise privacy concerns, especially since the voice-assistant rely on listening to the user in order to execute commands.