January 18, 2022

The Werribee News is the local newspaper of Werribee, Victoria state. We publish weekly and has a circulation of five thousand's website visits per week.

Amazon Alexa tells 10-year-old girl to touch live plug with penny

Alex penny child

The child’s mother was furious with the digital assistant nudging her child to stick a metal item into the power socket.

According to Kristin Livdahl, mother of a 10-year-old child and writer, her daughter asked Alexa, Amazon Echo’s digital assistant, for a challenge.

A somewhat ominously artificial intelligence offered the baby a potentially lethal task.

“The challenge is simple: plug the phone charger approximately halfway into the wall socket, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs,” Alexa said, and set the clock to 20 minutes to complete the challenge.

The mother explained that she and her daughter were doing physical challenges to warm up, and her 10-year-old asked for more, prompting the lethal suggestion from Amazon’s AI.

“It was a good moment to go through internet safety and not trusting things you read without research and verification again. We thought the cesspool of YouTube was what we needed to worry about at this age—with limited internet and social media access—but not the only thing,” Livdahl explained in a Tweet.

The activity Alexa suggested is “the penny challenge,” a TikTok trend circulating the social network over a year ago. Inserting metal objects in a power socket may lead to a house fire, severe burns, and even death.

Amazon did not reveal what caused its system to recommend such a challenge, but it explained fixing the issue in a statement to the BBC.

“As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it,” the company claims.

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