- Some people on social media said their Amazon Echo devices were spontaneously bursting into laughter.
- Amazon said it was aware of the problem and was working to fix it.
- This is actually quite terrifying.
The company said the unexpected chuckles were caused by the Echo mistakenly hearing the phrase “Alexa laugh.”
“In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh.’ We are changing that phrase to be ‘Alexa, can you laugh?’ which is less likely to have false positives, and we are disabling the short utterance ‘Alexa, laugh.’ We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘Sure, I can laugh’ followed by laughter,” Amazon told Business Insider in a statement.
Over the past two days, users on social media have said the popular device was randomly emitting terrifying and unprompted laughter without their instructing Alexa, the voice assistant built into the Echo, to wake up.
One person said on Twitter that he told his Alexa to turn his lights off and instead heard a woman laugh. Others reported hearing the laughter when they were home alone in the dark.
It was not immediately clear from Amazon’s statement whether the problem was due to Alexa’s voice recognition misinterpreting certain spoken commands, or whether Alexa’s chuckles might have been triggered even when no words had been uttered at all.
In Business Insider’s own testing, it appears the new command is working. The laugh itself has also been changed from “haha” to a “teehee.”
Even Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, said he was happy Amazon fixed the problem, tweeting “Every time Alexa laughs, an angel dies, so thank goodness…”
Every time Alexa laughs, an angel dies, so thank goodness …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 8, 2018
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) March 7, 2018
My mother and I were having a conversation and our Amazon Echo let out the creepiest laugh completely unprompted. Idk what was so funny, Alexa but please don’t try to kill me in my sleep
— Britt (@britschruefer) March 7, 2018
Hearing @amazonecho laugh late at night when I didn't expect it, is the most momentarily frightening thing I have experienced.
— Mike (@Nouders) February 28, 2018
Amazon’s official acknowledgement of the Echo’s laughing problem was first reported by The Verge.