Past few weeks, users with Alexa-powered devices have been complaining that their speaker suddenly breaks into a laugh, without being prompted to. That’s a full proof recipe for mini heart attacks!
However, as The Verge reports, Amazon says that it is aware of the issue and is working towards fixing it. Amazon reportedly says that it plans to fix the creepiness by disabling the phrase, “Alexa, laugh”, which will instead by substituted by the command “Alexa, can you laugh?”
— CaptHandlebar (@CaptHandlebar) February 23, 2018
Amazon believes that the latter phrase is “less likely to have false positives,” or in other words the Alexa software is likely to mistake common words and phrases that sound similar to the one that makes Alexa start laughing. “We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘Sure, I can laugh,’ followed by laughter,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Users on Twitter and Reddit have been saying that every time Alexa broke into a laugh, it felt like it was an actual person laughing near them, which is certainly scary, especially when you’re home alone. Many responded to the cackling sounds by unplugging their Alexa-enabled devices.
I live alone and have lights controlled by Amazon Echo. Tonight, while sleeping, i closed my eyes and said “Alexa, lamp off.”
I heard a woman laugh, and lights were still on.
Now, I know that stupid device heard “laugh” instead of “lamp off”, but I can’t sleep anymore….. #fml
— Vedant Naik (@vedantNAIK) March 4, 2018
unprompted, my alexa just said "sure, I can laugh: tee hee" and I'm moving out now
— Daniel (@ddanielclemens) March 7, 2018
— RΛUL (@IntoTheNiite) March 7, 2018
Since a few reports came out, many other started to share similar experiences online. While some say that the laughter is unprompted, for some it appears as a bizarre response to requests to turn off the lights.