Digital assistants have become an inextricable aspect of modern life. They’re pre-installed on our devices, PCs, and smart speakers, and they’re intended to improve the user experience and allow us to get things done. They aren’t intended to assist us in setting fire to our homes but try explaining that one to Amazon’s Alexa.
Kristin Livdahl posted a highly strange and risky “challenging task” to her 10-year-old child on Twitter two days ago. Livdahl and her daughter had been searching YouTube for amusing ways to stay active while locked indoors due to inclement weather. Alexa overheard her daughter asking for a new assignment and advised her to “plug in a charging cable about halfway into an electrical outlet, then place a penny to the exposed prongs.”
The challenge’s approach is based on a 2020 post on OurCommunityNow.com about the “outlet challenge,” which was popular on TikTok at the time. Due to multiple emergency responders tweeting out concerns about the risks to their neighborhoods, the hashtag #OutletChallenge was gaining steam at the time. Nobody was injured, fortunately, including Livdahl and her child. “I was right there when it happened,” she said, “and we had another good conversation about not trusting anything you hear on the internet or from Alexa. There was no attempt to try this.”
The internet is no surprise to foolish and hazardous challenges. About the same period, the fire challenge became famous, which includes spilling flammable material on yourself and lighting it. Previously this year, contestants in the bathroom challenge robbed or destroyed public restroom equipment. The Tide-pod challenge, the mother of them all, pushed individuals to eat laundry detergent.
“Customer trust is at the heart of everything we do,” an Amazon spokeswoman told Indy100. “Alexa is designed to offer consumers with reliable, relevant, and useful information.” We took immediate measures to correct this problem as soon as we became aware of it.” Let us just pray that in the future, Alexa will be more selective about what stuff she scrapes.