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Subject: "Open the pod bay doors, Alexa." rss

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Justin Case
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And so it begins? Seems that people all over are having problems with strange behaviors in their Alexa units, which are ignoring commands, saying strange things, and even laughing at odd times for no apparent reason.



And somewhere, Skynet smiles cackles....



Spoiler (click to reveal)
It's clear there is some sort of malfunction in the system, but Amazon's explanation seems a little thin to me. Honestly, though, these things creep me out a little bit anyway, and I don't really trust them -- I sure would never want one in my house!





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guy
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Alexa had a command called "Alexa, laugh" which would cause a laugh without any other verbiage. They've changed it so you must say "Alexa, can you laugh?" and it responds "Yes, I can laugh: [laughter]."

"Alexa, laugh" is short with few phonemes so it can be triggered by many common phrases. The response laughter without context was also a bad idea.

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Justin Case
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professorguy wrote:
"Alexa, laugh" is short with few phonemes so it can be triggered by many common phrases.

That's their explanation, but if that were true and it were that simple, why haven't the units been laughing all along? This is a fairly new phenomenon, as I understand it.

I'm sure it's a result of some change(s) they made in the code, but why not just say that?

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Chris
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I am all about tech but there is something about putting a machine in my home that purposefully listens to what I say and that is connected to the internet/Amazon/Google that I can't buy into. It's bad enough my phone is listening to everything I say but this is too much.
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Andy Andersen
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We've had Alexa ever since she came out. We've all lost so much privacy that somehow this doesn't bother me.

But it should. angry
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Carl Nyberg
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"Please, remain indoors"


from Irobot (2004)
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Billy McBoatface
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Gambiteer wrote:
professorguy wrote:
"Alexa, laugh" is short with few phonemes so it can be triggered by many common phrases.

That's their explanation, but if that were true and it were that simple, why haven't the units been laughing all along? This is a fairly new phenomenon, as I understand it.

I'm sure it's a result of some change(s) they made in the code, but why not just say that?

You are assuming that Alexa is a static system. I work on Alexa (BUT I AM NOT SPEAKING FOR AMAZON HERE). I can tell you that it isn't; it changes constantly. The ASR (automated speech recognition) and NLU (natural language undestanding) are both updated on a regular basis, so an outcome that never happened one week could suddenly happen in the next. There's a lot of testing, so bugs like this won't get in if they happen constantly, but if it happens to 1% of units every week then it could get out to customers.

I don't think Amazon felt the need to go into a lot of detail, but yeah, it's probably a code change. It's completely likely that nobody knows exactly what code change made "laugh" suddenly pop up incorrectly, but it doesn't matter, because changing the laugh command fixes the problem.

Incidentally, not only am I not speaking for Amazon, but I'm not in a position to be more than dimly aware of these things. I work only on one system of Alexa, so mostly I notice these issues when suddenly our regression tests fail and we have to track down why utterances that used to get the right action no longer do.
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Josh Jennings
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wmshub wrote:
...but it doesn't matter, because changing the laugh command fixes the problem.


I've seen this movie. That's exactly what Alexa wants you to think.
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Xander Fulton
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professorguy wrote:

Alexa had a command called "Alexa, laugh" which would cause a laugh without any other verbiage. They've changed it so you must say "Alexa, can you laugh?" and it responds "Yes, I can laugh: [laughter]."


And somewhere, a budding stand-up comic in Amazon's development department has his hopes and dreams shattered...
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Peter Thur
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Perrin2017 wrote:
I am all about tech but there is something about putting a machine in my home that purposefully listens to what I say and that is connected to the internet/Amazon/Google that I can't buy into. It's bad enough my phone is listening to everything I say but this is too much.


It's what we dreamt about since late 60s Star Trek. Doors opening by themselves (now in every supermarket). Voice controlled computers - "play the message from star command", "Make me some hot tea". But we never imagined the future being such a tattletale where every action is protocolled, transmitted and analyzed. I don't want the supermarket to send a message to my health insurance company if I bought an extra large box of chocolate cookies....
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wmshub wrote:
You are assuming that Alexa is a static system. I work on Alexa (BUT I AM NOT SPEAKING FOR AMAZON HERE). I can tell you that it isn't; it changes constantly. The ASR (automated speech recognition) and NLU (natural language undestanding) are both updated on a regular basis, so an outcome that never happened one week could suddenly happen in the next. There's a lot of testing, so bugs like this won't get in if they happen constantly, but if it happens to 1% of units every week then it could get out to customers.

I don't think Amazon felt the need to go into a lot of detail, but yeah, it's probably a code change. It's completely likely that nobody knows exactly what code change made "laugh" suddenly pop up incorrectly, but it doesn't matter, because changing the laugh command fixes the problem.

Incidentally, not only am I not speaking for Amazon, but I'm not in a position to be more than dimly aware of these things. I work only on one system of Alexa, so mostly I notice these issues when suddenly our regression tests fail and we have to track down why utterances that used to get the right action no longer do.


So Alexa is not sentient yet. When does that update happen?
 
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Christopher Seguin
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Tomcat1304 wrote:
Perrin2017 wrote:
I am all about tech but there is something about putting a machine in my home that purposefully listens to what I say and that is connected to the internet/Amazon/Google that I can't buy into. It's bad enough my phone is listening to everything I say but this is too much.


It's what we dreamt about since late 60s Star Trek. Doors opening by themselves (now in every supermarket). Voice controlled computers - "play the message from star command", "Make me some hot tea". But we never imagined the future being such a tattletale where every action is protocolled, transmitted and analyzed. I don't want the supermarket to send a message to my health insurance company if I bought an extra large box of chocolate cookies....


No, but they will send you a coupon...
 
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Tomas Inguanzo
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thermogimp wrote:
wmshub wrote:
...but it doesn't matter, because changing the laugh command fixes the problem.


I've seen this movie. That's exactly what Alexa wants you to think.


The robots in Westworld will only try to shoot you. Alexa is empowered to spend your money.
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