Owners of Amazon Echo devices with the voice-enabled assistant Alexa have been pretty much creeped out of their damn minds recently. People are reporting that the bot sometimes spontaneously starts laughing — which is basically a bloodcurdling nightmare.
Update: Amazon said in a statement to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday afternoon, "In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase 'Alexa, laugh.'"
"We are changing that phrase to be 'Alexa, can you laugh?' which is less likely to have false positives, and we are disabling the short utterance 'Alexa, laugh.' We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to 'Sure, I can laugh,' followed by laughter," the company said.
OK, but what about when Alexa laughs unprompted, as some people have reported?
One person who was on the verge of falling into a peaceful slumber described hearing a "very loud and creepy laugh" from his Echo Dot. "There's a good chance I get murdered tonight," he tweeted.
Another said Alexa started laughing while he was having an office conversation. "It was really creepy."
Some people already find it creepy that devices are listening in. Now, it seems the machines are just mocking us.
We wanted to hear Alexa's haunting cackle ourselves. She is programmed with a laugh, so we asked her to let us hear it (unlike those who have been tortured by her unprompted giggling). Listen for yourself.
Others made similar reports on Reddit. One person's Alexa refused to let them turn the lights off. "They kept turning back on." (Um, JFC GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!) They continued: "After the third request, Alexa stopped responding and instead did an evil laugh. The laugh wasn't in the Alexa voice. It sounded like a real person."
Excuse me, that's so horrifying, I just pooped myself.
Another person described their Echo unleashing a "chilling witch-like laugh. ... It scared the wife and my 5 year old so badly that we unplugged her." But did pulling the plug stop Alexa?
Others responded with their own accounts. "It started laughing like she was being tickled," one person wrote. "Tonight she laughed when prompted off, it was bone chillingly creepy. ... Still don't know what to think," said another.
This person's Echo laughed "without being provoked. ... It was a HA-HA-HA," they recalled. Pro tip: Do NOT provoke Alexa.
Ah, life with Alexa. Welcome to the future. HA-HA-HA.
This post has been updated to include a statement from Amazon.
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Venessa Wong is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Wong covers the food industry.
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