Artificial Intelligence: Alexa “Challenges” 10-Year-Old To Touch A Penny To Electrical Outlet
The child asked Alexa for a challenge.
Kristin Livdahl’s 10-year-old daughter happened to ask Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) Alexa on the family’s Echo for a challenge. Guess what Alexa suggested to the girl: Touch a penny to the exposed leads of an electrical outlet! A tragedy was averted because the mother was right there, and the challenge was never attempted. The shocked mother posted the AI-powered Alexa’s verbatim response on Twitter. (Tom’s Guide)
Alexa is a digital voice assistant that is powered by artificial intelligence. It relies on natural language generation and processing as well as machine learning to keep improving its responses. If Alexa makes an error when responding to a user’s request, it takes the data relating to that interaction and learns from it. Both favourable and erroneous feedbacks are noted by the program.
In the instant case, Alexa responded to the girl as follows:
“Here’s something I found on the web. According to 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.”
Apparently, Alexa’s AI pulled the information from OurCommunityNow.com. Alexa was inspired to make the suggestion because it likely picked up on a TikTok challenge that went viral in 2020.
Amazon issued an appropriately apologetic, boilerplate statement:
“Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers. As soon as we became aware of this error, we quickly fixed it, and will continue to advance our systems to help prevent similar responses in the future.”
The incident raises concerns around the systems that developed Alexa and its AI, as well as AI itself in general.
Related Story: Now, An AI-Powered Prosecutor Can File Charges In China
Image of burned electrical point: Wikimedia Commons
Image of penny: US Mint
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