Great news: Alexa devices are freaking people out by randomly laughing
I for one certainly wouldn’t wet the bed in terror if, in the middle of the night, a disembodied “chilling witch-like laugh” suddenly filled the room.
Maybe Alexa just found out Bezos’s net worth?
This was posted to Twitter two weeks ago:
The same thing’s supposedly happened many times to random people since then. In some cases there appears to be a logical explanation: One user claims the device laughed after he told it to shut off the lights on his patio by saying “patio off,” which — he thinks — it misheard as “how do you laugh?” But scroll through the accounts of random laughter here or in BuzzFeed’s round-up. Some Echo owners claim that the laughter has happened when they’re in bed and all’s quiet. Others say laughter has come through the speaker even when the device’s blue light isn’t on, which it is whenever it’s processing a request.
Amazon says it’s aware of the problem and is working on a fix although, interestingly, it hasn’t said what it thinks is causing it. My theories in increasing order of “Black Mirror” screenplay potential:
1. Echo owners are gaslighting us, or themselves. Either some of the people who’ve posted about creepy laughter are lying outright to be part of the fun on social media or there are logical explanations they’re overlooking for the phenomenon. In other words, this is the tech equivalent of ghost sightings. Although if that’s what’s happening, how to explain the fact that the laughter’s only been heard within the past few weeks?
2. Bezos is gaslighting us. What’s the fun of being the world’s richest man if you can’t pull a Guy-Grand-type prank on the entire world now and then?
3. It’s a viral marketing campaign for some new device or product. Coming soon to Amazon video: A new special from Dave Chappelle, one that’s so funny Alexa’s laughing already! Or, coming soon from Amazon Pharmaceuticals: A new breakthrough in anti-psychotic medication to silence that weird laughter in your head.
What’s that? Amazon Pharmaceuticals doesn’t exist, you say? Patience, patience.
4. Amazon employees are listening in in real time and occasionally laughing amongst themselves at the crushing tedium of our lives. Sometimes they forget to turn their own mics off when they do. The jig is up. Soon the entire American population will file a class-action suit for invasion of privacy and … lose badly, on grounds that we paid Amazon to put microphones in our homes in the first place.
5. The laughter is a signal to those in the know that “Phase II” of Amazon’s operations will begin soon. This is the cue for the 10,000 chosen survivors to head for the designated bunkers before Lord Bezos reveals the sinister true purpose of, ahem, “Amazon Prime Air.”
Exit question: What’s the point of Amazon Echo again? What does it do that the virtual assistant on your phone doesn’t? I’ve never understood this. If you want to listen to music, get a Sonos.