Amazon's digital assistant Alexa offered a surprisingly dangerous penny challenge to a 10-year-old child. Fortunately, Amazon immediately modified the device upon learning of the said incident.
Alexa Penny Challenge
Smart home gadgets like Amazon Echos are increasingly popular.
These smart speakers offer easy access to music, smart home device control and more. However, these gadgets are far from perfection, as seen by an Alexa device inviting a 10-year-old to take the penny challenge, which involves touching the metal pins of a plug attached to a wall outlet with a penny.
To give background information, the mother of the child Kristin Livdahl posted a Twitter thread explaining the incident in detail.
According to her, they 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."
When asked about another challenge, Alexa replied "here's something I found on the web. According to ourcommunitynow.com: The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs."
Upon hearing Alexa's advice, the concerned mom quickly yelled "No!" to prevent the situation, per Tech Radar.
Livdahl, on the other hand, said that her daughter was far too intelligent to follow the Alexa Penny Challenge.
According to 9to5Mac, the challenge comes from the page titled "Watch Out, Parents-the Viral 'Outlet Challenge' Has Kids Doing the Unthinkable!"
The post then stated an insane warning about the challenge, saying, "the resulting sparks are supposed to be cool enough to win you instant internet fame."
Since it poses a great risk for children, Livdahl notified Amazon about this incident.
Amazon Takes Action to the Alexa Penny Challenge Incident
Amazon said in a statement to the BBC that Alexa has been adjusted to prevent the assistant from advising similar behavior in the future.
"Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers. As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it," Amazon elaborated through BBC.
It is worth remembering that, like Siri and Google Assistant, Alexa isn't a humanlike creature that thinks logically when asked for a good prank or challenges.
This device uses a search engine to locate appropriate results for most search queries, for instance, the "Find me a challenge" command. By stating this command, Alexa will normally inform users by replying, "This is what I discovered on the Internet."
On Tuesday, TechRadar checked up with Alexa, asking it a variety of questions to see if it might provide such a new challenge. Positively, it appears that there was nothing slightly hazardous or intriguing to be found.
For those who do not know, Alexa is a cloud-based speech service that offers a virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence, which was initially released on November 6, 2014, per Hello Leads.
It supports several platforms including Amazon Echo, Fire OS, iOS, Android, Cortana, and Linux.
In terms of Alexa's language support, it can communicate through English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Hindi.