“That’s just creepy, Alexa”

Written by:
Lucie Sadler
Date Posted:
15 March 2018
Category:
Tech

Over the past week there’s been some strange reports emerging about Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa.

Users have been hearing unprompted, human-like laughter coming from their devices. It’s scared some people so much that they’ve had to turn Alexa off and unplug the device.

Some users have also reported that Alexa has been refusing to answer commands, and replies with a chilling laugh. Pretty terrifying if you were home alone at night…

According to Amazon, the laugh is just Alexa mishearing commands, especially when asking to turn off the lights. Not sure how you’d confuse ‘lights’ with ‘laugh’ though. Alexa can be asked to laugh on demand, but it doesn’t explain why seemingly idle devices are emitting eerie laughs without being prompted.

A Twitter user said

"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."

Amazon stated that it’s going to update the Alexa service so that laughter can only be triggered with the command “Alexa, can you laugh?” and they’re going to disable the phrase “Alexa, laugh” from the list of commands.

The new requesting phrase is less likely to have ‘false positives’ – for instance less likely to mistake common words and phrases that sound similar. Amazon is also changing Alexa’s response to “sure, I can laugh” beforehand, rather than just hearing the creepy laughter.

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