Amazon confirmed an incident where its Alexa voice assistant “challenged” a 10-year-old girl to touch a penny to the exposed prongs of a plug inserted to the wall, saying it has fixed the “error”.
Kristin Livdahl, the girl’s parent, posted a screenshot of their Alexa activity history on Sunday showing that their Echo smart speaker responded to the girl’s request for a “challenge to do” with a lethal suggestion.
“Plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs,” the virtual assistant said.
“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,” Livdahl wrote in another tweet. Alexa then suggested that the girl attempt the challenge that it had “found on the web.”
The “penny challenge” began circulating on TikTok and other social media platforms last year. It is dangerous because metals conduct electricity and inserting a coin into a socket can cause shocks and fires.
Fire officials in the U.S. have spoken out against the challenge, pointing out reports of people losing fingers and hands from attempting it.
Amazon told media outlets that it had updated Alexa in response to the incident. “As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it,” a spokesperson told the press.
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