Amazon’s Alexa assistant told a child to do a potentially lethal challenge

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  • The suggestion was made through an Echo smart speaker, with the girl asking Alexa to “challenge to do”.
  • Alexa replied, “Plug a phone charger into a wall outlet about halfway through, then uncover a penny.”
  • The potentially deadly challenge, which Alexa spotted, started appearing on social media platforms including TikTok about a year ago.

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Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, isn’t designed to endanger human lives, but it did just that over the weekend when it asked a 10-year-old girl to touch a live electrical plug with a penny.

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The suggestion was made via an Echo smart speaker after the girl asked Alexa to “challenge to do”.

“Plug a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then uncover a penny,” Alexa said.

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An Amazon spokesperson told Businesshala on Wednesday that the error has been corrected.

Kristin Livdahl, the girl’s mother, reportedly living in the US, described the incident in a tweet on Sunday, which included A screenshot of the incident as it appeared in the Alexa smartphone app.

“We were doing some physical challenges, like lying down and rolling over with a shoe on our foot, a . [physical education] Teacher first on YouTube,” Livdahl wrote in another tweet. “Bad weather outside. She just wanted one more.”

It was then that Alexa suggested the girl to try a challenge she had “found on the web.” Alexa took the challenge out of an online news publication called Our Community Now. The news website did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Businesshala and it was unclear how it originally reported on the silly challenge.

“I was right there when it happened and we had another great conversation about not trusting the internet or anything from Alexa,” said mom.

The potentially deadly challenge, which Alexa spotted, started appearing on social media platforms including TikTok about a year ago. This is dangerous because metals conduct electricity and inserting metal coins into a plug socket can cause violent electric shock and fire, with some Reports of people losing fingers and hands from taking up the challenge.

“Alexa is designed to provide customers with accurate, relevant and useful information,” an Amazon spokesperson told Businesshala. “As soon as we became aware of this error, we took prompt action to correct it.”

Amazon did not immediately elaborate on what the “rapid action” was.

Artificial intelligence expert Gary Marcus said on Twitter on Wednesday that the incident showed that AI systems still lack common sense.

“No existing AI is remotely close to understanding the physical or psychological world of everyday,” Marcus later told Businesshala in an interview. “What we have now is an approximation of intelligence, not the real thing, and thus it will never really be reliable. We need some fundamental progress – not just more data – before we can get AI.” can do, we can trust.”

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