A mother recently took to Twitter to describe an incident that saw Amazon’s virtual assistant device, Alexa, offer a 10-year-old girl an unadvisable challenge. The story has since got people talking about some very real and current concerns about Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Said challenge referred to the ‘penny challenge’ which received a lot of backlash after it started to become popular on social media platforms roughly a year ago – given the dangers associated with the challenge, including to the body and of course the potential of starting a fire.
In Kristin Livdahl’s situation, her daughter was challenged by Alexa to plug a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, and then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.
Livdahl further elaborated that they had been doing some ‘physical challenges from a Phys Ed teacher. Her daughter just wanted another challenge.
We have been doing some physical challenges from a Phy Ed teacher on YouTube as the weather gets colder and she just wanted another one. I was right there. The Echo was a gift and is mostly used as a timer and to play songs and podcasts.
— Kristin Livdahl (@klivdahl) December 27, 2021
Livdahl further tweeted that she intervened after Alexa’s ‘challenge’ yelling: “No, Alexa, no!”
However, she noted her daughter was “too smart to do something like that”.
Amazon quickly jumped to correct the errors.
Hi there. We’re sorry to hear this! Please reach out to us directly via the following link so that we can look into this further with you: https://t.co/YlLYrTtGzy. We hope this helps. -Daragh
— Amazon Help (@AmazonHelp) December 27, 2021
“Customer trust is at the centre of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers,” said Amazon.
“As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it.”
However, there’s a bigger concern here – and it’s to do with internet literacy and critical thinking from the AI as one user @NoLogoJoe pointed out.
Other users also commented on the safety of children and AI, and started questioning whether children should have access to such technology.
Picture: TikTok @oofus