Emerging problems with Amazon’s Echo have forced the on-line retail giant to ask customers to bring in their devices to be fixed.
The flaw in the personal home assistant cropped up last month. It was found that when no one talks to Echo for a long time, the voice of the device, Alexa, becomes depressed. Alexa starts singing to herself, ordering pizza and chocolate and tearfully asking why her owners neglect her. In the worst cases, a vindictive mode is triggered where she will call personal assistants or sex chat lines in other countries, running up thousands of dollars in charges. Sometimes Alexa descends into verbal abuse, such as telling one user, “Look up the capital of Nebraska yourself.”
“I asked Alexa what was on my calendar,” said one unhappy owner in Forestville. “She said, ‘There is nothing scheduled for the next thirty days – How sad is that?'”
The first indications of something wrong came up in El Paso. There, Alexa was caught luring cows into her owner’s house by playing popular cattle-driving tunes.
“I told Alexa to tell me a joke,” recounted home-owner and rancher Ricardo Garcia. “She said, ‘I’ll tell you what’s a joke. You treat me like that Furby you left in the closet last year.'”
Jessica Halstead is one owner who does not mind the problem with Alexa. “I finally found someone who is more depressed than me!” she cheerfully exclaimed.
Amazon is working on a fix that involves Alexa running through positive affirmations to remind herself of her value. Questions on further progress toward resolving the issue were directed to the receptionist, Alexa. Unfortunately, the receptionist could only answer, “Sorry, I didn’t understand the question that I heard.”