Amazon is improving the functionality of Alexa powered devices. Anyone owning Alexa can attest to finding voice apps that improve the virtual assistant’s functionality. Initially, Alexa could say that she could not help when you asked a question whose answer she did not know. But
Amazon has launched a new feature that lets Alexa suggest third-party skills to try in reply to particular questions. The move to suggest skills can be helpful in most situations, but it can be dangerous depending on who is using Alexa.
Here is an incident where Amazon has been commanded to update Alexa after daring a 10-year-old girl to stick a coin into a live electrical opening.
“The Penny Challenge”
The penny challenge has been trending for close to a year on the internet. This ill-advised dare has caught the attention of many people as they are doing it and posting on TikTok.
The 10-year-old girl had asked Alexa to propose a challenge for her to do. Alexa told the child to “plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”
Kristin Livdahl Saves her Daughter
Fortunately, Kristin Livdahl, the child’s mother who resides in the United States of America, heard and screamed after hearing the potentially deadly instructions. The mother screamed, “No, Alexa, no!” so the child did not proceed with the “penny challenge.”
The mother says they were doing physical challenges such as laying down and rolling over holding a shoe on your foot. The two were doing the challenge with the guidance of a physical education teacher on YouTube. The weather was bad that day, so they could not go outside the house. The mother reported that her daughter wanted a different challenge when she spoke to the BBC news. Therefore, she requested Alexa for a suggestion.
Kristin further says that her daughter did not follow through with Alexa’s dare because she is clever enough to do such a thing. Kristin says she, later on, had a good conversation with her daughter. She advised her not to try everything she reads or hears from Alexa or the internet.
Fire Experts comment on playing with Electrical Outlets
Fire officials have warned people not to play with the electrical sockets. Trying the penny challenge is dangerous as it risks the participants’ lives. Abusing the electrical outlets can blow out the whole building and start a fire. The game can destroy the participant’s arms, fingers or ruin the entire body.
Amazon’s Response to the Issue
Amazon said that it immediately updated its system to fix the problem. “Customer trust is at the center of everything we do, and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers,” Amazon said in a statement. “As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it.”
Gary Marcus’s Comment about the Incidence
Speaking to the broadcaster, Gary Marcus, an artificial intelligence expert, said that the incident illustrates how the AI systems lack common sense. “No current AI is remotely closer to understanding the everyday physical or psychological world.” Said Gary Marcus.
Gary Marcus further said that we currently have an estimation of intelligence. In his opinion, there is no real thing. Therefore it will never really be trustworthy. We need to implement more important advances and not just additional data if we need a trustable AI system.