Amazon Updates Alexa After Dangerous Suggestion

Image credit: Amazon

Alexa voice assistant updated after telling 10 year old girl in the US to touch a coin to the exposed prongs of an electric plug

Amazon has reacted quickly after its Alexa voice assistant suggested to a child that they do an incredibly dangerous and idiotic challenge.

Amazon reportedly updated Alexa after the voice assistant “challenged” a 10-year-old girl in the US to touch a coin to the prongs of a half-inserted plug.

The suggestion came after the girl reportedly asked Alexa for a “challenge to do”. Alexa found the challenge on the Internet and suggested it to the child.

An Alexa-powered device is seen in an Amazon TV ad. Credit: Amazon
Image credit: Amazon

Idiotic suggestion

“Plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs,” the smart speaker reportedly told the ten year old girl in the US.

The girl’s mother, Kristin Livdahl tweeted that she intervened, yelling: “No, Alexa, no!”

Amazon said it fixed the error as soon as the company became aware of it, the BBC reported.

Kristin Livdahl, described the incident on Twitter.

“We were doing some physical challenges, like laying down and rolling over holding a shoe on your foot, from a [physical education] teacher on YouTube earlier. Bad weather outside. She just wanted another one,” Kristin Livdahl reportedly said.

That is when the Echo speaker suggested taking in the challenge that it had “found on the web.”

“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,” Amazon Help tweeted, before it updated Alexa.

But how did Alexa end up suggesting such a dangerous activity to a child?

Like most bad ideas, it found it on the Internet.

Bad plugs

“The Penny Challenge” was reportedly circulated on TikTok and other social media websites about a year ago.

It is worth noting that the Penny Challenge would not work in the UK because of the British three prong plug is probably the safest and best designed plug in the world.

Its bottom two prongs are insulated halfway to prevent exactly this type of thing happening if the plug is only inserted halfway into the socket.

But US two prong plugs are different, and don’t have this insulation protection on the prongs.

Also American plugs can become lose in a plug socket if the prongs are bent or stretched, something that is almost impossible with British plugs.

“Customer trust is at the centre of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers,” Amazon told the BBC in a statement.

“As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it.”