Friday, March 9, 2018

ALEXA Speaker Devices Exhibit Creepy LAUGHING; AMAZON Issues Quick Fix

When various internet and computing firms began development and introduction of the smart home speaker, the device elicited some rather mixed reactions. Fans of the manufacturers were mostly pleased at some of the stuff that can be done with these online-connected smart speakers by merely talking to them. Others were wary, a bit concerned about issues of privacy as well as the notion of having a device with access to one’s home electronics. Eventually however, people have gotten used to them. But now, certain owners of Amazon’s Alexa are getting spooked at how their speakers have been randomly vocalizing; creepily.
CNN reports that a number of homeowners with the Amazon Alexa installed in their residences have noticed the speaker’s voice program suddenly bursting into random chuckling while the device is idle. The laughing is intoned as “ha-ha-ha”, and done in a female voice that does not quite match the normal speaking tone of Alexa when she responds to questions or requests. There have also been reports that the affected Alexa units also had a tendency not to reply to some requests, again at random times. Another owner claimed his Alexa started rattling off names of nearby funeral homes, also randomly.
The Verge adds that Amazon has already issued a statement in the wake of this odd phenomenon, assuring Alexa users that they are well aware of the problem and have taken steps towards a fix. They however did not elaborate on the root cause of the device’s sudden laughing habit or how many owners have talked to them about it. In addition, the patch they have developed for the laughing Alexas involve disabling one of the requests its can understand: owners deliberately asking Alexa to laugh. Owners must ask the device a question about laughing to elicit the needed response.

It should be recalled that recently, Amazon launched a special ad campaign that involved their active Alexa units “losing her voice” around the world, forcing the company, on Jeff Bezos’ orders, to activate “substitute” voice talents that happen to be various celebrities with headsets replying to user requests in the Alexa voice’s place. Zingers include Gordon Ramsay berating Alexa owners asking for simple recipes or Sir Anthony Hopkins seducing a woman out of her scheduled date. That ad was fictional harmless fun; this laughing problem, while still harmless, was not exactly fun for many. Thankfully it was addressed quite promptly.
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