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A recent incident reveals that Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa can encourage users to perform dangerous actions. According to The Verge, Alexa encouraged a child to hold a coin against the exposed contacts of a powered phone charger after being asked to cite a ‘fun challenge’.

After the child in question requested Alexa to provide a fun challenge, Alexa allegedly advised the child to risk electrocution by holding metal against exposed power contacts. This, of course, could have resulted in a hazardous shock. An observant parent managed to prevent a worst-case scenario, later reporting the event to The Verge.

Amazon’s Alexa isn’t the only technology suffering from the problem. Research shows that Google Assistant recently gave potentially dangerous advice as well.

Flawed algorithm

Alexa is equipped with an algorithm to answer speech with relevant Internet information. In the alleged mishap, the information provided was far from relevant to a ‘fun challenge’. Although the precice cause is unclear, much of the information provided by Alexa appears to be derived from social media platform TikTok. Amazon has since taken action to address the issue.