Amazon Echo and Echo Plus devices.

Source: Elaine Thompson via PA

Amazon said it's trying to stop its Alexa software from spontaneously laughing

Many people online joked that the device was becoming sentient.
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AMAZON HAS PROMISED to keep virtual assistant Alexa from spontaneously cackling.

Users of smart speakers with Alexa assistant software have comically expressed their fears in recent weeks on Twitter, even posting video snippets of speakers infused with the software laughing menacingly for no apparent reason.

Some said they were getting eerie feelings about what the artificial intelligence might be plotting.

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

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 on the development.

Tesla co-founder Musk is among high profile figures who have called for vigilance to ensure artificial intelligence doesn’t turn on humans.

Amazon told AFP 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 told AFP.

And, Alexa is being modified to say “Sure, I can laugh,” before cackling.

Amazon began as an online book seller.

One video of a cackling Alexa posted at Twitter on 23 February had logged more than a million views.

“I unplugged Alexa and she’s still laughing,” one Twitter user quipped.

Launched in 2014 by Amazon, the Alexa digital assistant has spread from the company’s Echo voice-commanded speakers to millions of devices, even cars.

Alexa competes in the digital assistant market with offerings from tech titans including Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

© – AFP 2018

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