electrical outlet with penny

There are already plenty of reasons why Americans are a bit trepidatious when it comes to the smart home devices being peddled by Big Tech, but a whole new chapter in this book of worry has been written this week.

With devices like Amazon’s Alexa, there is no shortage of horror stories out there.  They mostly revolve around the reality that these gadgets are always listening and feeding your behavioral data through an algorithm that is then used to sell you stuff.  It’s an invasion of privacy of the most diabolical order, and many of us aren’t even aware of how dangerous it could be. But that kind of clandestine catastrophe isn’t the only trouble Alexa can cause.

According to  Kristin Livdahl, the 10-year-old girl’s mom:

: “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. Bad weather outside. She just wanted another one.”

That’s when the Echo speaker suggested partaking in the challenge that it had “found on the web”.

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The challenge involved putting a penny in an electric socket, something that could and has resulted in death.

The dangerous activity, known as “the penny challenge”, began circulating on TikTok and other social media websites about a year ago.

(…) Ms Livdahl tweeted that she intervened, yelling: “No, Alexa, no!”

However, she said her daughter was “too smart to do something like that”.

There were articles warning people about the almost fatal “game” two years ago Ms. Livdahl found:

 “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,” Alexa’s response read.

Amazon was quick to respond with some boilerplate banality.

“Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers,” a spokesperson for Amazon told CNN in a statement.
“As soon as we became aware of this error, we quickly fixed it, and will continue to advance our systems to help prevent similar responses in the future,” the statement said.
Their answer to Ms. Livdahl was even worse:

We Appreciate Your Patience?  Their machine almost killed her daughter, and they appreciate her patience?  What the hell is wrong with Amazon?  What other deadly activities will Alexa come up with?  They say they are looking for a fix to prevent more incidents like that.  If you believe that they can ensure that something like that from happening again—you must have heard that from the tooth fairy, a unicorn, or a politician because it’s bull!  A computer system like Alexa can develop a list of activities as broad as the internet.
Thankfully the little girl’s mom was there doing the activities with her.  That’s a lesson all parents should learn.  Being there with your children when they are on the net or playing with an Alexa is the only way to prevent it from happening to your kid.
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Parts of this post were first seen at Flag and Cross.
electrical outlet with penny