During the Holidays, a little girl wanted to engage in some physical challenges, so she asked Amazon’s Alexa for some challenges. Alexa, “challenge to do.”
Alexa indicated that it had found some challenges on the web. The voice assistant suggested, "plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs."
Evidently about a year ago there had been “the penny challenge” circulating on Tik Tok and some other social media sites. Alexa’s algorithms picked up this challenge and shared it with a 10-year-old girl to do in response to her request for a challenge to do. Luckily, the little girl was smart enough not to listen to Alexa.
Metals are electricity conductors and inserting metals into live electrical sockets can cause electric shock, fire and other physical and bodily damage. If this little girl had followed Alexa’s advice, she could have lost a finger, hand, arm or even her life.
When the little girl’s mother Kristin Livdahl heard Alexa suggest “the penny challenge,” she yelled "No, Alexa, no!"
After being informed about this incident, Amazon told the BBC that it took swift and immediate action to update Alexa to prevent Alexa from suggesting such activity in the future.
Hopefully Alexa’s Echo know now not to echo everything it hears!
Amazon also stated that "customer trust is at the centre of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers."
This incident is just a reminder that technology is not necessarily conscious and we as creators have to always ensure we are learning and growing so when bad information comes from technology, we don’t follow.
As conscious beings, we must always be the Master of the technology we create and use.
Tare a Listen to Throwback where I discuss “Consciousness: What does that mean?”
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