Owners of Amazon Echo across the U.S. were alarmed in recent weeks when their helpful robotic devices randomly lit up and Alexa belted out 'creepy' laughter.
Amazon said Wednesday it was aware of the problem and believes the cause to be a "false positive" for the command, "Alexa, laugh".
Amazon acknowledged on Wednesday that some of its Alexa-enabled devices have developed a new skill: creeping out their owners with unexpected and unwarranted bursts of robotic laughter.
People began reporting the problem with their “smart” speakers on social mediain recent weeks. “So my mom & I are just sitting in the living room, neither of us said a word & our Alexa lit up and laughed for no reason,” tweeted one woman, Taylor Wade, on 5 March. “She didn’t even say anything, just laughed.”
One person reported that Alexa laughed during an office discussion and when asked why replied, "Sorry, I am not sure."
Other Twitter users weighed in their experiences, some not realizing at first the laughter was coming from Alexa:
"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." - @GavinHightower
While some Alexa owners have opted to simply unplug the device, Amazon believes it has isolated the issue and is implementing a fix. The company believes Alexa occasionally is picking up a "false positive" command telling Alexa to laugh.
Amazon will change the command for laughter to “Alexa, can you laugh?” and disable the shorter command. It will also program Alexa to preface its simulacrum of human emotion with the phrase: “Sure, I can laugh.”
Hopefully the fix will take care of Alexa's creepy new habit, but as the Guardian notes,
[T]errifying your customer base is likely a bad move for a company trying to convince people to install a listening device in their bedrooms.