Amazon’s Echo speaker is supposed to make people’s lives easier, but on one occasion the voice assistant that lives within it, Alexa, got a little too excited when she heard her name on the radio.
In a segment on NPR, the American national public radio, the presenter discussed at length about how the voice-activated assistant was helping users up and down the nation with common daily tasks. What he didn’t expect however, was that his voice would trigger any Amazon Echo that also happened to be listening in.
The show’s host, Rachel Martin, explained in an update on the story:
“Listener Roy Hagar wrote in to say our story prompted his Alexa to reset his thermostat to 21℃. It was difficult for Jeff Finan to hear the story because his radio was right next to his Echo speaker and when Alexa heard her name, she started playing an NPR News summary. Marc-Paul Lee said his unit started going crazy too and wrote in to tell us this – let’s just say we both enjoyed the story. So Alexa, listen up – we want you to pledge to your local member station. You hear me? Lots and lots of money. Did you get that, Alexa?”
It’s not the first time that Alexa has gone rogue, Alexa is not even the only voice assistant that has responded to unwanted commands. Always-listening voice assistant commonly experience the same problem, whether it be Siri, OK Google or even Microsoft’s Xbox One – all of which have previously been activated by adverts.
Given Alexa’s access to a user’s life, it could worry some that the Echo could rogue at any point – especially since users can now use the speaker to do their online banking or unlock their car. Thankfully, right now it doesn’t seem to present too much of a problem other than a few funny responses here and there.
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