Amazon has a fix in to repair its Echo devices, which is outfitted with Amazon AI, Alexa.
Alexa, much to the chagrin of consumers, is apparently laughing at inappropriate times and reportedly in menacing-sounding ways on occasion.
Many Echo users have pointed out on social media Alexa’s spontaneous laughter over the last several weeks.
One user caught the laugh — seemingly unprompted — on camera and shared it to social media.
The Twitter user wrote, “So Alexa decided to laugh randomly while I was in the kitchen. Freaked @SnootyJuicer and I out. I thought a kid was laughing behind me.”
— CaptHandlebar (@CaptHandlebar) February 23, 2018
Another user detailed a disturbing pre-bed occurrence, and on Twitter, wrote, “Lying in bed about to fall asleep with Alexa on my Amazon Echo Dot lets out a very loud and creepy laugh … there’s a good chance I get murdered tonight.”
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
In addition to unwarranted laughter, Alexa is also reportedly not obeying user commands — such as complying in shutting off the lights.
According to Buzzfeed, one user reported that Alexa continuously turned the lights back on even though the user wanted them off.
“I was trying to turn off some lights and they kept turning back on,” a Reddit user wrote, according to the outlet. “After the third request, Alexa stopped responding and instead did an evil laugh. The laugh wasn’t in the Alexa voice. It sounded like a real person.”
The user later wrote that Alexa, perhaps, mistook the phrase “patio off” for “how do you laugh.”
Another user detailed an abrupt laughter experience that shook his family so badly that he opted to unplug the device altogether.
So what’s Amazon planning to do to fix this?
The Verge reported that Amazon said they were aware of the glitch on Thursday.
“We’re aware of this and working to fix it,” a statement from an Amazon spokesperson said.
Amazon, according to The Verge, will change the verbiage in its “laugh” command to sound less ambiguous and, thusly, cut down on the inappropriate laughter.
Presently, Alexa will laugh in response to the command, “Alexa, laugh.”
Reps for Amazon believe that the AI might often mishear this short phrase, so their developers are planning to change the command to something a little longer: “Alexa, can you laugh?”
The spokesperson for Amazon said that the longer phrase is “less likely to have false positives.”
Amazon in a Thursday statement to NPR said, “In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh.’ We are changing that phrase to be ‘Alexa, can you laugh?’ which is less likely to have false positives, and we are disabling the short utterance ‘Alexa, laugh.'”
“We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘Sure, I can laugh,’ followed by laughter,” the statement added.