Alexa suggests deadly TikTok problem to 10-year-old

By default, Alexa uses the Bing search engine for all of her searches. Credit: Unsplash

One mother was shocked when her Amazon Echo Dot made a potentially fatal proposition when her 10-year-old daughter Alexa asked for a “challenge”.

On Sunday, Kristin Livdahl shared a screenshot on Twitter of the message Alexa supposedly replied with.

“I found something here on the web. According to ourcommunitynow.com, the challenge is simple: plug a phone charger about halfway into an outlet, then touch the exposed prongs with a dime, ”said Alexa.

Ironically, the article Alexa pulled this answer from warns parents about their kids doing the “Outlet Challenge,” which went viral on TikTok in January.

The “outlet challenge” went viral when teenagers joined the dangerous trend and TikTok banned searching for it. The challenge is essentially telling people to put a dime into an outlet with a phone charger. The penny creates sparks and a potential fire hazard.

By default, Alexa uses the Bing search engine for all of her searches. So the message is likely an automated, rather than a conscious, decision by someone who works at Amazon.

“Our customers want Alexa to become smarter and more helpful every day. We use your requests to Alexa to train our systems for speech recognition and understanding natural language with the help of machine learning, ”says Amazon on its website.

According to the tech giant, Alexa “relies in part on supervised machine learning, an industry practice where people review an extremely small sample of requests to help Alexa understand the correct interpretation of a request and provide the appropriate response in the future.” .

While a Twitter user asked why the kid asked Alexa about challenges in the first place, Livdahl replied, “We did some physical challenges from a Phy-Ed teacher on YouTube when the weather was getting colder and she just wanted one more. I was right there. The echo was a gift and is mainly used as a timer and for playing songs and podcasts. ‘

Screenshot of the Amazon Help

Amazon apologized in the Twitter comments on Monday. Photo credit: Twitter

Some people pointed out that getting unfiltered results from Alexa was potentially problematic.

‘Companies should really know better than to post unfiltered question-and-answer systems live on the Internet. Google does this in its summaries as well, and similarly they regularly have shocking / dangerous results like this one, “said one Twitter user.

On Monday, Amazon spotted Livdahl’s Twitter post and apologized in the comments and asked her to report directly via a link so “they could keep watching”.

Metro.co.uk has asked Amazon for a comment.

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