The insidious nature of technology is often marked by silent consequences like addiction, surveillance, and online harassment. But one ghost in the machine has become chillingly audible: Alexa is laughing at you. People are reporting that Amazon’s Echo devices have mysteriously started cackling at random, and the company has confirmed it’s working on the problem.
As first reported by BuzzFeed, users on Twitter and Reddit have recently posted about the voice-activated devices laughing without being prompted. One user claimed that Alexa didn’t make the chime sound (indicating that the device had heard the wake word) before it broke out into laughter.
Lying in bed about to fall asleep when Alexa on my Amazon Echo Dot lets out a very loud and creepy laugh... there’s a good chance I get murdered tonight.
— Gavin Hightower (@GavinHightower) February 26, 2018
“I was trying to turn off some lights and they kept turning back on,” a user wrote on Reddit. “After the third request, Alexa stopped responding and instead did an evil laugh. The laugh wasn’t in the Alexa voice. It sounded like a real person.”
WHY DID MY ALEXA JUST LAUGH OUT OF THE BLUE?!?!?!?
— Kyle Fitzy Shanklin (@kylefitzy8) March 4, 2018
Asked for comment about the complaints of Echo devices spontaneously laughing, Amazon told Gizmodo, “We’re aware of this and working to fix it.”
Sooo I'm chilling in the kitchen making breakfast. and I hear a notice from my roomies room. As I open the door and look around, MF Alexa started to laugh.. pic.twitter.com/wzfNJRJiJV
— Jorge Fuentes (@jorgefufu0) March 7, 2018
It remains to be seen what the cause of the laughter is. It seems likely that this is a technical issue. I’m hard-pressed to come up with one good reason why turning the machines maniacal is a way to sell an already pretty invasive device.