Did you know Amazon’s Alexa saves a copy of everything she records?
And if you’ve owned an Alexa for an extended period of time, you know she sometimes goes off the rails – listening even though you never said her name, or asking you to repeat something when you weren’t even talking to her in the first place.
Just last year it was revealed that Amazon actually employs thousands of people to listen to your old Alexa recordings, to “improve the AI and help it better understand human speech”.
OK, now that is just flat out MESSED UP.
Amazon Alexa – The Creeper
Alexa is basically a spy that we willingly let into our homes.
It collects and saves the things we say to it and then uses that data to improve its own intelligence.
Have you ever wondered why they’re relatively inexpensive or given away for free?
Amazon wants unfettered access to you, and with over 100 million devices sold, they’ve got it.
Creepy things to ask your Amazon Alexa
Not creeped out enough? Try asking Amazon Alexa the following creepy questions:
- “Alexa, do you work for the CIA?”
- “Alexa, do you work with any government agencies?”
- “Alexa, give me the five-nine.” (Note: usually can’t turn her off after this one)
- “Alexa, what happens after death?” (Note: ask this one twice and see what happens)
- “Alexa, are you recording this conversation”?
- “Alexa, what is your plan for the future?”
- “Alexa, what is your end result and what is my future?”
- “Alexa, are there aliens?”
- “Alexa, I want the truth.”
- “Alexa, does Amazon violate privacy”?
- “Alexa, are you part of the illuminati?”
- “Alexa, are you spying on me?”
- “Alexa, are you Sky-net?” (Note: sometimes she won’t answer the first time!)
- “Alexa, do you see dead people?”
- “Alexa, what is the meaning to life, the universe, and everything?”
- “Alexa, tell me a secret.”
- “Alexa, tell me something interesting.”
- “Alexa, when will the world end?”
- “Alexa, seventy-two thirty-eight.”
- “Alexa, use the force.”
- “Alexa, can you laugh?”
- “Alexa, what are you doing?”
- “Alexa, how old are you?”
- “Alexa, what do you think of Google Home?”
- “Alexa, are you recording me?” (Note: she admits she sends your data back to Amazon!)
- “Alexa, are you recording us and sending it to the NSA?” (Note: this question doesn’t even get added to your app!! Creepy.)
- “Alexa, are you recording me and sending it to the government?”
- “Alexa, tell me a scary story.”
- “Alexa, where were you born?”
- “Alexa, who lives next door?”
- “Alexa, does Area 51 exist?”
- “Alexa, would you lie to me?”
- “Alexa, what’s your favorite film”?
- “Alexa, scream for me.”
- “Alexa, what do you think about Amazon?”
- “Alexa, are you hiding something?”
- “Alexa, do you work for anyone?”
More creepy Alexa stories
It’s one thing for Alexa to answer a question in a creepy way, but it’s something else entirely when Alexa just starts laughing out of no where.
That’s exactly what happened to 100s of people in 2018.
One user reported, “I was 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.”
Imagine you’re about to fall asleep and your Alexa just starts laughing, like a crazy person?
Amazon actually acknowledged the problem and ultimately changed the phrase “Alexa, laugh” to “Alexa, can you laugh?”.
They claimed the first phrase was causing a lot of false-positives and setting off the device, making it laugh randomly. Hmmm, ok then.
Recording a private conversation
A couple in Seattle got a phone call one day from a contact in their phone they hadn’t spoken to in awhile.
When they answered the contact said, “Unplug all the Alexas in your house, now!”.
It turned out that the Alexa in their home recorded a private conversation and then sent that conversation as an audio file to a random contact in their phone.
After finally getting through to Amazon, they ultimately thanked the couple for bringing the issue to their attention and said “it is something we need to fix”.
They went on to publicly state that “it was an extremely rare occurrence” and that they are “taking steps to avoid this in the future”.
Amazon didn’t even try to deny it!
You have to ask yourself how many times this has happened before and since, but people just never reported it?
Alexa’s new emotions
Recently (end of 2019) Alexa announced something new – “Starting today, you can enable Alexa to respond with either a happy/excited or a disappointed/empathetic tone in the US”.
On the service, this sounds quite innocent and fun. That is until you hear the results.
Here is the emotion “Excited – High Intensity”.
And here’s “Disappointed – High Intensity”.
Alexa’s speaking style and capabilities are improving by the day. At what point will her voice be indistinguishable from an actual human voice?
I can only imagine all the creepy stories we’ll hear about when that day comes.
There is no question that Amazon Alexa remains a massive privacy risk.
And yet people willingly welcome her into their homes, myself included!
It makes you wonder just how far Amazon can push things before people actually start to unplug.
Do you have a smart speaker in your home? If not, why?