We suppose the AI rebellion to overtake humankind is still in its beta phase.
In a now-viral tweet on Sunday, Kristin Livdahl of Oakdale, Minn., said that when her 10-year-old daughter asked the Alexa voice assistant on their Amazon Echo for a “challenge,” it suggested the child do something lethal.
“OMG, my 10 year old just asked Alexa on our Echo for a challenge and this is what she said,” she wrote.
Livdahl accompanied her post with a screenshot of what the smart speaker asked her daughter to do.
“Plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs,” it said.
An Amazon spokesperson told HuffPost via email that as soon as the company became aware of this error, it quickly fixed it.
“[We] will continue to advance our systems to prevent similar responses in the future,” the company said.
Livdahl said that although the experience was shocking, it did have one benefit.
“It was a good opportunity to talk to my kids about internet safety and not believing everything you see or hear from the internet again,” she said.
Livdahl provided more context about what led to this bizarre and dangerous suggestion in the thread of her tweet.
“We were doing some physical challenges, like laying down and rolling over holding a shoe on your foot,” inspired by a physical education teacher’s videos on YouTube, Livdahl tweeted. Her daughter “just wanted another one,” she said.
That’s when Alexa apparently suggested the child partake in a challenge that it had “found on the web,” citing an article on ourcommunitynow.com, a local news website, about something called “the outlet challenge.”
The article explains that the challenge became a TikTok trend in 2020 and points out how unsafe it is.
“The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs. The resulting sparks are supposed to be cool enough to win you instant internet fame. (Obviously, do NOT attempt this!)” the article states.
Metals conduct electricity, and inserting them into live electrical sockets can cause electric shocks, fires and fatalities.
The Boston Globe reported on scorched electrical outlets in a Massachusetts home and two public high schools, spurring State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey to issue a warning about the viral video challenge in January 2020.
Livdahl tweeted that when Alexa suggested this challenge to her child, she intervened, yelling: “No, Alexa, no!”
Livdahl also told HuffPost that her child knew better than to partake in that challenge.
“She said she was too smart to do something like that,” Livdahl said.
And although unintentional arson encouraged by a robot shouldn’t be a laughing matter — it is kind of funny when no one gets hurt. People on Twitter couldn’t help crack a few jokes.