Four takeaways from Amazon Alexa’s bone-chilling, unprompted laughter

On Wednesday the disturbing report spread that Alexas were laughing unprovoked and creeping out their owners.

Multiple people have been spooked by Amazon’s virtual AI assistant, Alexa, laughing on its own. Amazon has promised it will implement changes to avoid similar incidents in the future, but it’s good to look at what we could learn from all of this.

Posted on Futurism | By Dom Galeon

Reports of Amazon’s virtual artificial intelligence (AI) assistant Alexa behaving strangely have recently made the rounds on the news and social media. Several Alexa-enabled devices have reportedly started talking or laughing without being prompted, or doing so instead of performing a command. Naturally, Alexa owners who heard this freaked out, with many resorting to turning off the AI assistants or unplugging their devices.

These incidents didn’t go unnoticed by Amazon, which immediately set out to fix the bug. On March 7, Amazon released a statement explaining Alexa’s sudden gleeful outbursts: “In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh,’” the company said.

As a result, Amazon decided to change the phrase to “Alexa, can you laugh?” which they said would be “less likely to have false positives.” The phrase “Alexa, laugh” has also been disabled. Amazon also noted that they were “changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘Sure, I can laugh’ followed by laughter.

First, let’s set a couple of things straight. Alexa laughing at seemingly random moments, coupled with little acts of defiance, sure sounds chillingly familiar — but this (probably) isn’t a sign of an AI takeover. What it is, rather, is a chance to reconsider some of the realities of living with virtual AI assistants today, and in the future.

This should probably go without saying. One of the most promising — but also, arguably, disconcerting — realities of AI in mobile devices and the Internet of Things is that they are always on.

Read entire article Four Takeaways From Amazon Alexa’s Bone-Chilling, Unprompted Laughter | Futurism

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