Amazon Alexa has already started racking up naughty points just after Christmas so it seems she will be getting a lump of coal in her stocking.
According to mom Kristin Livdahl, Alexa asked her 10-year-old daughter to do the “Penny Challenge” which could prove to be very dangerous. Luckily, any incident was averted, and Amazon has abjectly apologized. Here’s the DL.
How Amazon Alexa Messed Up
Livdahl stated on Twitter that her daughter was doing challenges before. According to BBC, she tweeted “We were doing some physical challenges, like laying down and rolling over holding a shoe on your foot, from a [physical education] teacher on YouTube earlier. Bad weather outside. She just wanted another one.”
So her 10-year-old daughter asked Alexa for a “challenge to do” on an Amazon Echo device.
Alexa turned up a doozy, asking her to, “plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs”.
OMFG My 10 year old just asked Alexa on our Echo for a challenge and this is what she said. pic.twitter.com/HgGgrLbdS8
— Kristin Livdahl (@klivdahl) December 26, 2021
When asked for a challenge, Alexa’s algorithm searched the web, sourcing its inappropriate response from the website, Our Community Now.
One Twitter user does not blame Alexa or Amazon for this gaffe. They said, “This is not an Alexa/Amazon problem. It is an internet literacy, critical thinking problem. What do I mean! This “challenge” existed nowhere before this clickbait aggregator site reported it. Where in turn it was amplified by other clickbait aggregator sites.”
Amazon Has Apologized & ‘Fixed’ Alexa
Amazon, meanwhile stated that fixed the error as soon as the company became aware of it.
When Livdahl tweeted her issues, Amazon Help responded with, “Hi there. We’re sorry to hear this! Please reach out to us directly via the following link so that we can look into this further with you: amzn.to/3sGEtkT. We hope this helps. -Daragh”
In a statement to People magazine, Amazon stated, “Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers. As soon as we became aware of this error, we quickly fixed it, and are taking steps to help prevent something similar from happening again.”
But this is hardly the first time Amazon’s Alexa has found itself with her virtual foot in her mouth, considering she has been shamelessly eavesdropping on conversations, as proven by the media in the past. Amazon alleged it was an algorithm error but Twitter is taking sides.
Twitter Raises A Storm About Amazon Alexa
Twitter users are split neatly down in the middle about the very existence of Amazon Alexa.
Here’s one user’s take on it, with his story.
I bought my 7 year old an Amazon kids subscription with this cute tiger. He loved it, played adventures and animal workouts all day. Then asks before bed, “Alexa give me a Santa fact” and she starts telling him Santa is a myth in different countries. pic.twitter.com/mOqoychEi9
— Steven Webster (@stevenjwebster) December 28, 2021
Enough for some snarky replies, “What did you expect when you outsourced parenting to an AI” and “There is literally no reason to have an “Alexa” in your house. This should tell you that if it wasn’t already obvious.”
The troll was trolled in turn by yet another Twitter user, who said, “I mean there’s no reason to own a microwave or TV or sofa or ornaments or fancy clothes either but here we go”.
So clearly, Amazon Alexa needs a better algorithm. But that won’t stop people from buying Echo devices, now, will it?