The Amazon Echo range of PA devices which have rolled out for a few years now are, for all intents and purposes, at the forefront of their specialism. Both Apple and Google have entered the fray with their own devices in recent months, meaning that any tech-happy home has less reason than ever before to be without a standalone device that can help you to find news, weather and play music on demand. The market is booming – and while reception can be mixed, it seems that Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, is all but leading the field. However – a rather creepy new trend seems to be putting some Echo users on edge – though Amazon is confident that a fix has been found.
Some people have been experiencing laughing noises coming from their Echo devices without prompting – even when they are operating in an empty room and in the dark. This has led to a rather spooky set of circumstances which has spread itself across social media – with some Echo owners taking video footage to ‘prove’ Alexa effectively laughing at nothing. This is particularly unnerving – especially when, in the cases reported, nothing is being said or done to activate the device – let alone request it to laugh!
Amazon, however, feels that they have found a fix. They have reported to have upgraded Alexa to now react to “Alexa, can you laugh” as opposed to “Alexa, laugh”. This turn of phrase, it is reported, would have otherwise encouraged devices to emit the unnerving laughter – but it has since been made more difficult for such an action to jump into effect. However, this only seems to work if an Echo device has misinterpreted noise as saying “Alexa, laugh.” Users who are reporting the laughing occurring are, at least for now, left scratching their heads – meaning that this particularly unnerving trend may need to be kept on close view for some time to come.
Some who have experienced the random laughter of Alexa have made unfavorable comparisons with that of the sinister AI, HAL 9000, in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. While it’s safe to say that we are a long way away from robots and digital PAs harboring murderous intent, it’s not hard to understand why so many people experiencing the blip have been shaken up… wouldn’t you be?