Alexa, the female voice assistant for Amazon’s extremely successful smart speaker, Echo, has been the unlikely cause of nightmares across the country recently.
Echo’s Alexa voice feature has been caught laughing randomly without command, according to reports from some Echo users across Twitter describing their experiences with the seemingly conscious device.
— CaptHandlebar (@CaptHandlebar) February 23, 2018
A group of Reddit users who use Echo have reported incidents of instances when Alexa has ignored commands, such as turning lights on after being repeatedly asked to turn them off. She has also been caught taken part in games without being asked to, telling unprompted jokes, breaking up arguments, and even just turning on and “listening” without being commanded.
Having an office conversation about pretty confidential stuff and Alexa just laughed. Anybody else ever have that?
It didn’t chime as if we had accidentally triggered her to wake. She simply just laughed. It was really creepy.
— David Woodland (@DavidSven) March 1, 2018
Some think the device hears words that sound somewhat like “laugh,” such as “off,” and so Alexa misinterprets words in conversation as commands, and that is what prompts the creepy, out-of-nowhere cackle.
Every time Alexa laughs, an angel dies, so thank goodness …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 8, 2018
According to an NPR article published Thursday, “Amazon has confirmed that the device’s virtual assistant has been laughing without users’ intentional commands, and the company says it is working on a fix,” which will most likely be a way to help Alex stop mistakenly hearing the command, ‘Laugh.'”
A spokesperson for Amazon Echo said that they will likely update the device so that it responds to a more distinguishable command (“Alexa, can you laugh?”) instead of responding to, “Alexa, laugh,” or more simply, “Laugh.” The voice feature will also give a warning before the laugh sounds.