Amazon said it is “working to fix” a glitch in devices housing voice assistant Alexa after users complained of being startled by its “creepy” laugh.
Alexa is designed to respond to commands when prompted with a wake word – which in this case is “Alexa” or “Amazon” – but the laugh was reported to sometimes occur without any interaction with the device.
Some reported the laugh occurring when they asked Alexa to perform a task such as playing music or turning off the lights.
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
Others claimed the voice assistant let out creepy laughs for no reason at all.
Having an office conversation about pretty confidential stuff and Alexa just laughed. Anybody else ever have that?
It didn't chime as if we had accidentally triggered her to wake. She simply just laughed. It was really creepy.— David Woodland (@DavidSven) March 1, 2018
WHY DID MY ALEXA JUST LAUGH OUT OF THE BLUE?!?!?!?— Kyle Fitzy (@kylefitzy8) 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
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. she didn’t even say anything, just laughed.
we unplugged her.— taylor wade (@taylorkatelynne) March 5, 2018
Another jokingly wrote: “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.”
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.— Gavin Hightower (@GavinHightower) February 26, 2018
Many have likened the laughter to a scene in the sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey where HAL 9000 – an artificially intelligent system – refuses a command from mission commander Dave Bowman to open the doors, saying: “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
Alexa laughing at people’s request is not that far away from Hal 9000 not opening the pod bay doors in 2001: A Space Odyssey. We should be scared 😂— Neil Patrick Healy (@NP_Healy) March 8, 2018
Uh oh Alexa's been chatting with HAL 9000!!!! Disconnect, disconnect!!!— Jamey Funny (@JameyFunny) March 8, 2018
An Amazon spokesman said: “We’re aware of this and working to fix it.
“In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh’.
“We are changing that phrase to be ‘Alexa, can you laugh?’ which is less likely to have false positives, and we are disabling the short utterance ‘Alexa, laugh’.
“We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘Sure, I can laugh’ followed by laughter.”