Amazon moves to stifle cackling from virtual assistant


Fri, Mar 09, 2018 - Page 10 Inc on Wednesday promised to keep virtual assistant Alexa from spontaneously cackling, giving people eerie feelings about what the artificial intelligence might be plotting.

Users of “smart” speakers with Alexa assistant software have expressed their fears on Twitter, posting video of speakers infused with the software laughing menacingly for no apparent reason.

“If Alexa is laughing at you to your face, just imagine what it says about you behind your back,” a remark posted on Twitter said.

Darker posts wondered playfully whether fears about artificial intelligence turning on humans were coming real.

“Every time Alexa laughs, an angel dies,” entrepreneur and innovator Elon Musk joked in a Twitter exchange.

Tesla cofounder Musk is among high profile figures who have called for vigilance to ensure artificial intelligence does not turn on humans.

Amazon said it looked into what was going on and found that sometimes Alexa mistakenly registers the phrase “Alexa laugh” and obeys.

“We are changing that phrase to be ‘Alexa, can you laugh?’ which is less likely to have false positives,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

Netflix Inc took the opportunity to spotlight a Black Mirror series.

“Just brainstorming some blackmirror titles while Alexa laughs maniacally in the distance,” a Netflix tweet said, alongside a picture of a book shop overlaid with The Bookstore That Enslaved Humanity.