Amazon has a solution to Alexa’s creepy laugh

Amazon has a solution to Alexa's creepy laugh
Amozon Alexa. Photo: Rahul Chakraborty, Unsplash

When you catch your digital assistant devices “talking” or responding without being instructed to, you might feel like you are in the middle of the worst horror/Sci-Fi movie.

Throughout the years, we’ve been watching movies and reading books about the highly-developed future, full of robots and AI. Somehow, they all end up with the same plot – robots are conquering the world, guided by an extremely smart and angry artificial intelligence system.

Well, no need to panic –  the robots are not taking over the world, but software errors can happen. That’s exactly what Amazon thinks happened to Alexa.

Last week, Alexa users were shocked as they heard strange, scary laugh coming from their devices. Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, apparently had some issues which caused the creepy sound and confusion all over the Internet.

Users kept posting about the weird laugh, which all agreed, sounded evil. Alexa was soon trending on Twitter as people were trying to figure out if their house is haunted or not. As of then, the company was looking into the latest events in order to determine what went wrong. Of course, no ghosts were involved and Amazon confirmed that this error will be fixed.

Alexa’s sudden laugh scared its users

Users reported that Alexa suddenly started laughing, without being asked to. Twitter users shared their unusual experience, explaining that the device simply started laughing.

Those who witnessed this strange event even claim that the laugh wasn’t Alexa’s voice. Some users reported that it sounded like “an actual person laughing”. This came terrifying to the ones who were alone at the time, and many rushed to unplug Alexa.

One of the users explained on Reddit that in his case, everything started with Alexa refusing to follow his instructions to turn off the lights. According to him, the light kept turning on and after his third command, Alexa stopped, without any response. Soon after, he heard the “evil laugh” coming from the device.

Another user reported that he heard the laugh after the second attempt of instructing Alexa to turn off his morning alarm. He described the noise as “most chilling witch-like laugh” and explained it scared his wife and child. The family immediately unplugged Alexa. He also added that shortly after, the family turned their digital assistant back on. They’ve asked Alexa to laugh throughout the day, however, none of the sounds would match what they had heard in the morning.

Not all creepy laughs were triggered by a command. Some users reported that Alexa started laughing randomly, while they were simply sitting in silence.

Amazon explained the unsettling event

Amazon’s officials confirmed in their statement that they are aware of this problem and are working to permanently fix it. As they explained, there is a chance that a mix-up occurred, and that Alexa has mistaken another phrase for a laugh command.

In order to fix the recent problem, Amazon is changing Alexa’s laugh commands. The tech giant confirmed that within their fix, the popular phrase “Alexa, laugh” will be disabled. The new command will be “Alexa, can you laugh?”.  According to Amazon’s developers, this phrase has lower chances of being misunderstood.

As Amazon’s officials explained, the original phrase was more likely to cause “false positives” where the software would mistake common phrases that sound similar to Alexa’s laugh command – which was apparently the reason behind the latest issue.

In addition, the company is changing Alexa’s response as well. Instead of simply laughing when asked, Alexa will first confirm that the command is acknowledged with “Sure, I can laugh” and then – laugh.

Although the problem is now fixed, some are suggesting that it could’ve been avoided. As humor is only known to humans, AI’s and digital chatbots are not able to recognize it. They can only be “trained” to laugh, which is exactly what Amazon did and what made Alexa so popular – “she” is learning to be more like humans.

At least now, the device will confirm the command it understood was instructed, and then perform it. Hopefully, this will keep the creepy noise away.