This week, several users of Amazon’s smart home assistant Alexa reported that they were startled to hear the AI-powered piece of software laughing near them out of the blue. On Wednesday, Amazon said its engineers are aware of the problem and working on fixing it.
On the same day, Amazon said that the laugh is triggered by the ‘Alexa laugh’ combo of words. Since users can use that phrase many times over is different contexts, the e-commerce giant plans to switch it to ‘Alexa, can you laugh?’
The company is confident that the change will be less likely to prompt the smart assistant to give the creepy laugh. In short, Amazon suggests that users who reported the problem probably used words and phrases that the system took for the trigger phrase.
A spokesperson for the company also said that in response to the ‘Can you laugh’ question, the smart assistant will reply ‘Sure, I can laugh’ before actually laughing.
Users Panicking over the Incident
Many users complained on social media that Alexa started to laugh randomly, as they didn’t even ask it to wake. Also, some Redditors were so panicked that they initially believed that a real person was laughing via the smart speaker in a prank. And it can be quite scary, if you live alone. Many users said they immediately unplugged the device after hearing the laugh.
The incident was first reported in mid-February. One Twitter user even posted a video showing an Alexa-enabled smart speaker ‘laughing’ out of the blue.
— CaptHandlebar (@CaptHandlebar) February 23, 2018
Since then, many other users reported the same incident. Some of them heard Alexa laughing when they told it to turn off the lights. Twitter user Gavin Hightower, however, said he was just lying in bed about to fall asleep when he heard the ‘creepy’ laugh coming from his Echo Dot smart speaker.
Lying in bed about to fall asleep when Alexa on my Amazon Echo Dot lets out a very loud and creepy laugh… there’s a good chance I get murdered tonight.
— Gavin Hightower (@GavinHightower) February 26, 2018
Image Source: Flickr