Yes, Alexa is suddenly letting out evil laughs for no reason
What's so funny, Alexa? Amazon's smart assistant isn't telling. And it's got some people creeped out.
Edward MoyerSenior Editor
Edward Moyer is a senior editor at CNET and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. ¶ For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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Does Alexa have something diabolical in store for her human owners?
That might explain the eerie laughing she's been doing all by herself, with no bidding.
Amazon confirmed on Wednesday that devices enabled with its smart assistant are emitting disturbing cackles. "We're aware of this and working to fix it," a rep for the company said in an email.
News of the disquieting titters began surfacing recently on social media.
Twitter user CaptHandlebar, for instance, posted a short clip of Alexa laughing "randomly while I was in the kitchen":
The captain wasn't the only one worried that robots might be coming for us all. Fellow Twitterer Gavin Hightower tweeted that he was "lying in bed about to fall asleep when Alexa on my Amazon Echo Dot [let] out a very loud and creepy laugh." Was he afraid? "There's a good chance I get murdered tonight," he added.
And a tweet by one David Woodland suggested that having Alexa sign a nondisclosure agreement might not be a bad idea.
"Having an office conversation about pretty confidential stuff and Alexa just laughed," he wrote. "She simply just laughed. It was really creepy."
Of course, she could just be chuckling because right now she's dominating her rivals, Apple's Siri and Google's Assistant. She may also be a little giddy from the media glow as she looks to become the aural figurehead for the net-connected "smart home" generation.
Watch this: What Alexa's laughing means for voice recognition's future
Amazon had no comment on what, exactly, the problem is, or when it might be fixed. We emailed back to ask if the company rep was actually a company rep and not Alexa posing as a rep to forward her evil plan.
We haven't gotten a response yet -- unless it was that psychotic chortle we just heard coming from the other room...
First published March 7, 1:30 p.m. PT Update, 3:39 p.m.: Later Wednesday afternoon, an Amazon rep provided additional information via email:
"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."
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