A better communicator: Amazon’s Alexa tells user, “kill your foster parents”

From Yahoo: Millions of users of Amazon’s Echo speakers have grown accustomed to the soothing strains of Alexa, the human-sounding virtual assistant that can tell them the weather, order takeout and handle other basic tasks in response to a voice command.

So a customer was shocked last year when Alexa blurted out: “Kill your foster parents.”

Alexa has also chatted with users about sex acts. She gave a discourse on dog defecation. And this summer, a hack Amazon traced back to China may have exposed some customers’ data, according to five people familiar with the events.

Alexa is not having a breakdown.

The episodes, previously unreported, arise from Amazon.com Inc’s strategy to make Alexa a better communicator. New research is helping Alexa mimic human banter and talk about almost anything she finds on the internet. However, ensuring she does not offend users has been a challenge for the world’s largest online retailer.

At stake is a fast-growing market for gadgets with virtual assistants. An estimated two-thirds of U.S. smart-speaker customers, about 43 million people, use Amazon’s Echo devices, according to research firm eMarketer. It is a lead the company wants to maintain over the Google Home from Alphabet Inc and the HomePod from Apple Inc.

Over time, Amazon wants to get better at handling complex customer needs through Alexa, be they home security, shopping or companionship.

“Many of our AI dreams are inspired by science fiction,” said Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s vice president and head scientist of Alexa Artificial Intelligence (AI), during a talk last month in Las Vegas.

To make that happen, the company in 2016 launched the annual Alexa Prize, enlisting computer science students to improve the assistant’s conversation skills. Teams vie for the $500,000 first prize by creating talking computer systems known as chatbots that allow Alexa to attempt more sophisticated discussions with people.

Amazon customers can participate by saying “let’s chat” to their devices. Alexa then tells users that one of the bots will take over, unshackling the voice aide’s normal constraints. From August to November alone, three bots that made it to this year’s finals had 1.7 million conversations, Amazon said.

Read the whole story here.

See also:

While the owner is away the parrot will play (and order items from Amazon Alexa)
Police think Alexa may have witnessed a double slaying, want Amazon to turn her over
Amazon launches program to get Alexa in hotel rooms


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8 Comment authors
SeumasTPRSteven BroilesAnonymousLophatt Recent comment authors
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Dr. Eowyn

Alexa sounds demonically possessed.


Use the smart devices at your own peril. Alexa and the others record everything you say near it. The “smart” TV’s not only record what you say, they can take video and photos of you in your TV room. And, we just found out the other day from the news that even if you turn off GPS tracking on your cellphone, you are still being tracked. I cover the camera on my laptop and desktop when not using it, but that doesn’t mean our verbal conversations aren’t being recorded. People who buy “smart” homes have NO privacy as their movements… Read more »


__God help people who are so lonely that they would settle for talking to an AI BOT for “companionship.” Adopt a pet instead if you need to. At least a pet is a LIVING, breathing non-artificial BEING. __It’s probably YOUNG duped male techie nerds & foreigners who vie for the contest prize money for creating “Chat Bots.” How boring &/or corrupted their ideas of “chit chat” must be. __These “Personal Assistant” AI thingies will make people dumber & dumber. People will forget how to do anything for themselves & will become more & more mentally dependent. I’m glad everyone at… Read more »

Steven Broiles

This eerily reminds me of the words of BILL AYERS, who, circa 1970 to a crowd, announced, “The only way for our revolution to succeed is for us to rise up and kill our parents.” The Left DETESTS lawful authority of any sort. They do not seek disorder as an end in itself; They seek to impose disorder in order to obtain to their order, their Rule. In other words, they and the Illuminati are one: ORDO AB CHAO is their motto, their mantra. They seek to extract the order THEY want out of the chaos that they wish to… Read more »


That is a very specific sort of few glitches there, why exactly would it glitch in such a specific fashion, even if “learning”? (Which is impossible for a machine, because a machine is incapable of being a living thing, has no will, and no consciousness, regardless of the overt and heavy-handed manipulation through media genres like the recently very popular video game “detroit: become human”… and why detroit, one wonders, especially after the satanists set up shop there in recent years? Many questions.) Sometimes I wonder if the world would be better if suddenly all the internet outright died for… Read more »