In the recent news, Amazon’s Alexa suggested a potentially lethal challenge to a 10-year-old child. The challenge entailed touching a penny to the uncovered prongs of a phone charger plugged into the wall. The device apparently drew the idea for the challenge from an article defining it as harmful, mentioning news reports about an alleged challenge going viral on TikTok.
Amazon’s Alexa Told a 10-Year-Old Child to Do a Potentially Lethal Challenge
The 10-year-old child’s parent Kristin Livdahl posted a screenshot of their Alexa activity record on her Twitter account. According to the screenshot of the potentially lethal challenge, the Echo replied to “tell me a challenge to do” with “Here’s something I found on the web. As per ourcommunitynow.com: The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”
In a statement to a leading media publication about the potentially lethal challenge, Amazon verified Alexa’s behavior, stating, “As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it.” Amazon isn’t the only firm to run into problems trying to parse the web for content.
Previously Google Also Displayed a Potentially Harmful Advice
In October, a user informed that Google displayed potentially harmful advice in one of its featured snippets if you Googled “had a seizure now what” — the information it displayed was from the area of a webpage explaining what not to do when someone was having a seizure. Furthermore, users have informed other similar issues, though, including one user who said Google presented results for orthostatic hypotension when exploring for orthostatic hypertension, and another who published a screenshot of Google showing awful advice for comforting someone who’s mourning.
In the matter of Amazon’s Alexa, an algorithm selected the explanatory part of forewarning and heightened it without the actual context. While the parent of the 10-year-old child was there to instantly interfere, it’s easy to picture a situation where that isn’t the case or where the response shared by Alexa isn’t so obviously unsafe. Livdahl tweeted that she used the chance to “go through internet safety and not trusting things you read without research and proof” with her 10-year-old child.
Source: The Verge