She's always listening.
By now, you might as well have accepted that the day is nigh when smart technology will conquer the human race until eventually we’re all reporting to our robot overlords.
Just kidding… sort of.
These days, smart technology is everywhere, from the homes we live in to the places we work, all the way down to our own bodies. Even if the only technology you have or use regularly is a smart phone, chances are it’s keeping track of an absurd amount of your personal information. It all comes down to if you think the convenience is worth any potential risks or invasions of privacy.
For those of us who embrace it, however, it’s likely that you have at least several smart devices accompanying you through your day. One of the most popular intelligent personal assistants is Amazon’s Alexa, the little voice and big brain inside of the Echo. But even if she makes your life easier, not everyone is comfortable with her omnipresence, and now people around the world are reporting that she’s spontaneously laughing without being prompted. Is this the beginning of the end?
Originally released in 2014, Alexa is one of the top-rated personal intelligent assistants available on the market today. Able to wake you up in the mornings, set alarms, provide information about the weather and your commute, play white noise to help you sleep, tell corny jokes, and so much more, she can be incredibly useful for day to day life.
But she’s always there, even when you don’t need her to be. (As long as she’s plugged in, that is.)
Earlier this year, many Echo owners were dismayed to learn that Alexa is always listening. But also responded without being prompted? That’s a horse of a different color.
Towards the end of February, reports of Alexa spontaneously emitting a maniacal laugh started to gain traction across the internet. Soon, Twitter was flooded with reports of these creepy incidents.
On March 3, @kylefitzy8 tweeted: “WHY DID MY ALEXA JUST LAUGH OUT OF THE BLUE?!?!?!? I’m genuinely terrified. No one said her name, and all of a sudden SHE LAUGHED out of NOWHERE”
But these select incidents weren’t alone. Soon, dozens of people were reporting Alexa randomly laughing or doing other strange activities even when completely unprompted. It’s one thing if she hears a word similar to “laugh,” but it’s another thing entirely when it’s the middle of the night and she starts to cackle.
@GavinHightower tweeted: “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.”
As seen in the video above, @CaptHandlebar was one of the first whistleblowers for Alexa’s strange behavior.
As the reports continued to gain traction on social media, Amazon was made aware of the occurrences and released a statement.
In a comment to The Verge, Amazon stated, “We’re aware of this and working to fix it.”
Apparently, Amazon assume’s it’s either a glitch or her natural reaction to mishearing a prompt that would cause Alexa to laugh under normal circumstances.
The company also said: “We are changing that phrase to be ‘Alexa, can you laugh?’ which is less likely to have false positives, and we are disabling the short utterance ‘Alexa, laugh.’ We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘Sure, I can laugh,’ followed by laughter.”
Some users, however, weren’t convinced by the recent trend of laughing Alexa’s. One man, commenting as Will B, suggested a theory that “It’s a hoax, but Amazon is taking it seriously, because it doesn’t know it’s a hoax (I saw someone make this as a joke earlier today on Twitter, and now its being reported like it actually happened – which is suspect).”
By this week, the reports coming in so much that Alexa’s troubling laughter even made it to the late night talkshow circuit. Just see what Jimmy Kimmel had to say.
What are your thoughts? Do you still trust Alexa, or any smart technology? SHARE this article with a friend who thinks the AI rebellion is coming.