Stories of Amazon’s Alexa are now legion…if not all true. Parrots using it to order merchandise. Alexa listening in on couples’ intimate talk.
And now telling a young girl to perform an incredibly dangerous and foolhardy TikTok stunt.
The company claims it has updated its Alexa voice assistant after it "challenged" a 10-year-old girl to touch a coin to the prongs of a half-inserted electrical plug.
Alexa made the suggestion after the girl asked it for a "challenge to do". The apparently demonic smart speaker replied: "Plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”
"The penny challenge" began showing up on TikTok and other social media websites about a year ago. Short-circuiting electrical conduits in this manner can cause fires, severe shocks, injuries, or potentially even death.
The young girl’s mom tweeted that when she heard Alexa’s instructions, she intervened by yelling "No, Alexa, no!" She also noted that her daughter was "too smart to do something like that".
Amazon released a statement to the BBC saying: "Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers. As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it." Sure.
“Accurate, relevant, and helpful information?” How many other instances like this may have occurred? Amazon may have fixed the TikTok connection, but what about everything else?
Alexa: “Open the pantry and drink the whole bottle of olive oil.”
Alexa: “Go to your neighbor’s yard and yank hard on their rottweiler’s tail.”
Alexa: “Put your hand on the glowing burner on the stove in the kitchen-- and then blindfold yourself and slowly walk across the street.”
Alexa: “Take off all your clothes before you get on your school bus today.”