Alexa

Alexa

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Updated Apr 03, 2024 at 04:29PM EDT by Don.

Added Mar 15, 2017 at 10:58AM EDT by Don.

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About

Alexa is a digital personal assistant created by Amazon for use on compatible devices, including the Amazon Echo and Amazon Dot, which responds to voice commands to play music, make to-do lists, set alarms and provide real time information, bearing many similarities to Apple's Siri.

History

In November 2014, the Echo internet-connected speaker was released, which featured Alexa as the on-board digital assistant for the device. Additionally, a companion application was released for Android and iOS devices, which allows users to customize their Alexa-enabled devices. In March 2016, Amazon unveiled the Echo Dot device, a smaller version of the Echo which connects to external speakers.



Amazon Lex

In late November 2016, Amazon revealed plans to make Alexa's speech recognition and natural language processing technology available to developers under the name Amazon Lex.



Online Presence

On November 6th, 2014, YouTuber Barry Mannifold uploaded a parody of the original Echo commercial, in which Alexa delivers various insults to a family (shown below, left). Within three years, the video gained over 3.8 million views and 1,200 comments. On April 14th, 2015, YouTuber Mathias uploaded a prank video in which he uses the Alexa "Simon Says" feature to say disturbing things to people (shown below, right).



On June 26th, 2016, YouTuber Will Baur uploaded a video in which an Alexa turns off after being asked "are we currently being monitored by the NSA?" (shown below, left). On December 29th, YouTuber f0t0b0y uploaded a video in which the Amazon Echo Dot begins reading a pornographic film title to a child (shown below, right). Within three months, the video garnered upwards of 9.4 million views and 13,800 comments.



On March 9th, 2017, Redditor DominarRygelThe16th posted a video in which a woman asks Alexa "are you connected to the CIA?" in lieu of Wikileaks Vault 7 leak, which gathered upwards of (shown below). Within one week, the video gainved over 113,000 votes (86% upvoted) and 5,400 comments on /r/videos.[1] That day, Redditor porntipsguzzzardo submitted a video titled "Alexa has been updated," in which an Echo device responds "No. I work for Amazon" when asked the same question (shown below, right).[2] Additionally on Reddit, the /r/Alexa[3] and /r/Alexa_Skills[4] subreddits were launched for discussions about the digital personal assistant.



Laughing Glitch

In late 2017 and early 2018, Alexa owners began reporting that their Alexa devices would begin laughing without being prompted to, significantly disturbing the owners. On December 1st, 2017, a Reddit user reported the laughing glitch.[5] On February 22nd, Twitter user @CaptHandlebar uploaded a video of the glitch, gaining 5,800 retweets and 14,000 likes (shown below).




On March 7th, 2018, many media outlets began reporting on the bug. Twitter Moments[7] displayed tweets of people talking about the bug. The Verge[6] reported that Amazon stated to them “We’re aware of this and working to fix it.” Later that day, Amazon responded with plans to fix the bug. According to Amazon, the fix would involve changing the phrase "Alexa, laugh" to the phrase "Alexa, can you laugh?", which would lead to less false positives. Alexa would also respond "Yes, I can laugh" before laughing to lessen the creepy effect. The controversy was also covered by CNN[8] and Select All.[9]

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