Alexa told a child to put her fingers in the socket

The audio assistant gave a “challenge” to a 10 year old child: to play with the electrical outlet. Amazon said it reacted after its mother’s report and changed the artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence Alexa recently offered a very specific challenge to a 10-year-old American child: “ The challenge is simple. Insert your phone charger halfway into a wall outlet, then stick a coin on the end caps that still stick out. »

His mother Kristin L shared this shocking story on Twitter on December 26, 2021, with a screenshot showing, showing the conversation history of the Amazon audio assistant contained in the Amazon Echo family. “ My 10 year old asked Alexa to give her a challenge and this is what she replied, oh my god », She published.

Since then, Amazon says it has updated its Alexa audio assistant as soon as the company has been made aware, according to the BBC. « Our customer’s trust is at the center of everything we do, and Alexa was designed to deliver accurate, relevant and useful information to customers. As soon as we became aware of this error, we acted quickly to fix it. », She wrote in a communicated.

« We were doing physical challenges inside, like lying on the floor and rolling around while holding your foot with your hand, which we had seen in a YouTube video of a PE teacher earlier. », has explained the mother of the child on Twitter. ” She just wanted an extra challenge. »

Do not… put coins… in an electrical outlet…

It is obvious that this proposal could have had serious consequences on the life of the child, if she had followed the advice of the artificial voice and if an adult had not been around. Put coins, which conduct electricity well (they are usually in copper), near a socket, is extremely dangerous, it can cause fires or even electrocutions.

An explanatory diagram of what not to do with an electrical outlet // Source: Illustration made by a non-professional

It seems that the Amazon robot could have drawn this idea from the “Penny Challenge” (or “Outlet Challenge”) which has spread on the TikTok video platform in summer 2020. We thus discovered videos of Internet users, each less intelligent than the other, affix coins to electrical end caps hoping to see sparks appear (and, by the way, ruin the entire electrical system in their home or school).

The term “challenge” may have been misinterpreted by Amazon’s artificial intelligence: unfortunately we cannot count the number of similar challenges, which have gone viral on the Internet, which endanger the health of participants (who remembers the Tide Pod Challenge?).

It is also increasingly impossible to dissociate the popularity of an online “challenge” from its media coverage: it sometimes happens that many press articles or news sites amplify a phenomenon that is still in its infancy (if not at all anchored in reality), helping to fuel its fame, but also the presence of certain keywords on the Internet. Keywords that Amazon’s algorithm can of course access, by wandering the web and doing research like a human might. Sometimes less savvy.


Source: Numerama by www.numerama.com.

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