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Alexa, stop being so creepy! Unprompted laughter is freaking out owners

Amazon offers a reason for Alexa's 'random,' creepy laugh

Greg Mombert/Digital Trends
Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

First, she lost her voice, and now, Alexa is laughing at us. It’s been a tough several days for the artificially intelligent assistant, but more importantly, it’s been tough on us. After all, the only thing worse than not being to talk to Alexa is having Alexa laugh — creepily, we might add — at you out of the blue.

Son of a…

— CaptHandlebar (@CaptHandlebar) March 7, 2018

As initially reported by BuzzFeed, Amazon’s popular robot helper is apparently chuckling in a rather alarming way, entirely unprovoked by her users. Could it be that Alexa is laughing at how silly we are for allowing her into our homes? Could it be that Alexa is finally letting us know how gleeful she is that the robot revolution will soon come to pass?

Well, Amazon has now commented on the issue, explaining that the sudden snickering is apparently related to the box of tricks mishearing our instructions.

“In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh,'” Amazon said in a statement. In a bid to eliminate the odd behavior, the company said it’s changing the phrase to “Alexa, can you laugh?” which is “less likely to have false positives.” And instead of an immediate laugh to set your hair on end, Alexa will now respond with, “Sure, I can laugh,” followed by laughter.

The company confirmed that it will also disable the short utterance, “Alexa, laugh,” which seems to have been causing so much trouble.

The Twitterverse has been alight with users complaining about this latest issue with Alexa. One Amazon Echo Dot owner noted that he was almost asleep when he heard a “very loud and creepy laugh” from Alexa. He added, “There’s a good chance I get murdered tonight.”

Although Amazon’s explanation appears to suggest otherwise, it didn’t seem as if Alexa was being triggered before she laughed — while the smart assistant is, to some extent, always on, she generally requires the wake word “Alexa” in order to begin any user-facing interactions. Another user noted that he was having an office conversation about “confidential stuff” when Alexa started laughing. Needless to say, “It was really creepy.”

Having an office conversation about pretty confidential stuff and Alexa just laughed. Anybody else ever have that?

It didn't chime as if we had accidentally triggered her to wake. She simply just laughed. It was really creepy.

— David Woodland (@DavidSven) March 1, 2018

But we should note that every once in a while, Alexa does in fact speak up when unprompted. (I’ve certainly had a number of scenarios with my own Echo Dot when Alexa will pipe up to say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that,” when I had no intention of waking her up.) But to be fair, having Alexa speak a full sentence to you is far less alarming that a sudden, seemingly random, laugh.

Updated on March 7: Added Amazon’s explanation.

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