In Depth

Amazon issues fix for ‘creepy’ Alexa laugh

Users have heard the virtual assistant randomly giggling in silent rooms

Amazon has been forced to issue a fix for its Alexa virtual assistant, after a number of users reported hearing spontaneous “creepy” laughter from their smart speakers. 

People with devices powered by the virtual assistant have been posting videos and comments on social media about such incidents over the past two weeks, with some saying the glitch dates back to at least December.  

Responding to the reports, an Amazon spokesperson told Metro: “In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh’.”

To fix the problem, the retail giant will disable the “Alexa, laugh” command and use “Alexa, can you laugh?” in its place. 

Alexa’s response will also change from just laughter to “Sure, I can laugh”. 

But not everyone is satisfied with Amazon’s solution. The Inquirer notes that Alexa’s laughs are sometimes completely random and can occur in “silent” rooms. 

There are also more widespread concerns about the system, which sends voice recordings “to the cloud for processing”, reports the BBC. This has led to fears about “eavesdropping”.

Although Alexa’s sporadic laughter could increase distrust of virtual assistants, some users saw the funny side, drawing comparisons with the Hal 9000 system in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  

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