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Amazon Echo Advises Child to Insert Coin in Electrical Outlet

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Amazon Echo Advises Child to Insert Coin in Electrical Outlet

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Given the increasing sophistication she’s displaying, it can sometimes slip our minds that Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant isn’t as intelligent as we often perceive. Virtual assistants have limitations in understanding specific language nuances and may miss certain subtleties or peculiarities. Occasionally, like the instance involving the Alexa on a particular Amazon Echo, she may exhibit sporadic sociopathic tendencies. One thing or the other.

Kristin Livdahl, a Twitter user, was engaging in various “challenges” with her 10-year-old daughter to pass the time on a rainy day. “Earlier, we were trying out some physical challenges, like lying down and turning over while holding a shoe on your foot, from a YouTube physical education teacher,” she shared on her Twitter account.

When Livdahl’s daughter requested another challenge, she asked Alexa in their home to suggest one. Alexa discovered a challenge online and presented it as follows: “Insert a phone charger halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a coin to the exposed prongs.”

Undoubtedly, this is an extremely perilous and hazardous idea that could potentially lead to electrocution, fires, property damage, or a combination of all three. When the child sought a challenge, Alexa retrieved information about “the penny challenge,” an exceedingly risky trend that circulated on social media the previous year, merely extracting the term “challenge” from the child’s query.

Livdahl promptly intervened by shutting down the Echo and emphatically instructing her daughter not to take such actions, to which she claims her daughter promptly understood the gravity of the situation. In response to Livdahl’s account, Amazon declared that they had already released a patch for Echo to prevent Alexa from suggesting dangerous social media “challenges” in the future.

“Maintaining customer trust is paramount in all our endeavors, and Alexa is engineered to furnish accurate, pertinent, and beneficial information to users,” Amazon informed the BBC in a statement.

“Upon recognizing this error, we promptly took corrective measures to address the issue.”

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