“Alexa, can you laugh like Jeff Bezos?”

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The company acknowledged the issue after some reported their devices had developed an unsettling new skill

08 March 2018 | Julia Carrie Wong | The Guardian

 

 

Amazon working to fix Alexa after users report random burst of ‘creepy’ laughter

“The robot wars are coming, and Alexa will have the last laugh.

Amazon acknowledged on Wednesday that some of its Alexa-enabled devices have developed a new skill: creeping out their owners with unexpected and unwarranted bursts of robotic laughter.

“We’re aware of this and working to fix it,” the company told The VergeWednesday.

People began reporting the problem with their “smart” speakers on social mediain recent weeks. “So my mom & I are just sitting in the living room, neither of us said a word & our Alexa lit up and laughed for no reason,” tweeted one woman, Taylor Wade, on 5 March. “She didn’t even say anything, just laughed.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to queries from the Guardian about the nature or cause of the apparent bug, but terrifying your customer base is likely a bad move for a company trying to convince people to install a listening device in their bedrooms.

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 7.49.50 AM

Wade at least had a simple enough solution to the problem, however: “We unplugged her.”

After the publication of this article, Amazon announced a fix and apparent explanation for the ghostly laughter. The company suggested in an email that the laughs had occurred “in rare circumstances” because the speaker was picking up a “false positive” for the command “Alexa, laugh”.

Amazon will change the command for laughter to “Alexa, can you laugh?” and disable the shorter command. It will also program Alexa to preface its simulacrum of human emotion with the phrase: “Sure, I can laugh.”

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