Amazon swears Alexa isn't plotting your demise
Tech giant to quiet smart speaker’s creepy spontaneous cackling
Amazon has promised to keep virtual assistant Alexa from spontaneously cackling, giving people eerie feelings about what the artificial intelligence might be plotting.
Users of smart speakers with Alexa assistant software have comically expressed their fears in recent weeks on Twitter, even posting video snippets of speakers infused with the software laughing menacingly for no apparent reason.Darker posts wondered playfully whether fears about artificial intelligence turning on humans were coming real.
“Every time Alexa laughs, an angel dies,” entrepreneur and innovator Elon Musk joked in a Twitter exchange on the development.
Tesla co-founder Musk is among high-profile figures who have called for vigilance to ensure artificial intelligence doesn’t turn on humans.
Amazon said it looked into what was going on and found that sometimes Alexa mistakenly registers the phrase “Alexa laugh” and obeys.“We are changing that phrase to be ‘Alexa, can you laugh?’ which is less likely to have false positives,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
And, Alexa is being modified to say “Sure, I can laugh” before cackling.
Streaming television titan Netflix took the opportunity to spotlight a Black Mirror dystopian series known for twisted, unanticipated consequences of new technologies.The tweet included a picture of a multi-storey, modern book shop overlaid with “The Bookstore That Enslaved Humanity”. Amazon began as an online book seller.
One video of a cackling Alexa posted at Twitter on February 23 had logged more than a million views.“I unplugged Alexa and she’s still laughing,” one Twitter user quipped.
Launched in 2014 by Amazon, the Alexa digital assistant has spread from the company’s Echo voice-commanded speakers to millions of devices, even cars.
Alexa competes in the digital assistant market with offerings from tech titans including Apple, Google and Microsoft.