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Amazon Echo’s Alexa Recommends An Incredibly Dangerous Challenge To A Young Child

Amazon’s extremely popular AI assistant Alexa has resulted in the company coming under fire, after a story went viral about it encouraging kids to try out a dangerous challenge.

To be fair, when I say encourage, Alexa didn’t manifest itself into a corporeal form, then proceed to force children to participate in dangerous games at gunpoint. That actually sounds like a great premise for a TV series; here’s to hoping a Korean studio hasn’t already gotten around to making the show, I could really get this greenlit. Future career aspirations aside, let’s look at exactly what happened first. A child, attempting to fill out a boring day, asked their Amazon Echo for a fun challenge that they could attempt. Alexa’s response ended up being the penny challenge: an individual must take their mobile phone charger, stick it into a live socket until the metal prongs are just barely visible, and then touch said metallic area with a penny. The goal? I honestly cannot comprehend, short of losing a few extra brain cells in both planning such a ludicrous activity and then following through on it. However, kids are young, impressionable, and already have quite the penchant for getting themselves smack dab in harm’s way. Therefore, were it not for a parent who had heard Alexa suggest the challenge, there might have been quite the commotion on everyone’s hands.

Between this and the Tide Pods challenge, I don’t think the AI revolution really needs to put in a lot of work in an all-out battle against humanity. All they really need to do is just repurpose our own dumb ideas, and just signal them forward to other individuals and blam! We’ll win the battle for them. At any rate, my nightmarish ruminations upon a future in which we battle the Terminator didn’t really feature Alexa telling kids to go off themselves. That’s entirely on Amazon, a company that should come to the realization that between treating its employees like garbage and influencing impressionable children, an HR seminar may not be enough. This is exactly the sort of thing that happens when a machine-learning device isn’t given any proper parameters to filter its input with: all Alexa saw was a challenge that was doing well and decided to accordingly suggest it.

Rather humorously, the actual article which Alexa pulled its recommendation from is one that condemns the challenge and warns individuals to not take part in it. Go figure.


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