Alexa laugh: Amazon pledges to stop gadgets making unprompted 'bone-chillingly creepy' laughing sounds

Sean Morrison

Amazon has pledged to stop its Alexa gadgets from making "evil" laughing sounds after customers described its unprompted cackling as “bone chillingly creepy”.

The technology and online shopping giant said it is working to fix the spooky glitch after owners of the device complained of hearing its spontaneous, “witch-like” laughter.

It comes after the release of Alexa, a voice assistant bot that records and processes voice commands, sparked fears of eavesdropping and wiretapping among critics.

Further fuelling these concerns, some owners of the device this week began sharing their experiences and videos online of its spontaneous “evil” laugh.

One Alexa owner wrote on Twitter: "Lying in bed about to fall asleep when Alexa on my Amazon Echo Dot lets out a very loud and creepy laugh... there’s a good chance I get murdered tonight.”

Another said: “So Alexa decided to laugh randomly while I was in the kitchen. Freaked @SnootyJuicer and I out. I thought a kid was laughing behind me.”

An Amazon spokesperson told technology website Verge that the company was aware of the reports and was working to fix the glitch.

Amazon promises to stop Alexa's spontaneous 'evil' laughter (Amazon)

The company later said in statement : "In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase 'Alexa, laugh'.

"We are changing that phrase to be 'Alexa, can you laugh?' which is less likely to have false positives, and we are disabling the short utterance 'Alexa, laugh'.

"We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to 'Sure, I can laugh' followed by laughter."

Voice assistants like Alexa are designed to respond or act only when prompted with a so-called “wake” word. In the case of this device it is programmed to respond to “Alexa” or “Amazon”.

Office worker David Woodland described how he was having a “confidential” conversation with a colleague when the Alexa in the room emitted an unprompted laugh.

In a post online, he added: “It didn't chime as if we had accidentally triggered her to wake. She simply just laughed. It was really creepy.”

And another Alexa owner wrote: “So my mom and I are just sitting in the living room, neither of us said a word & our Alexa lit up and laughed for no reason. She didn't even say anything, just laughed. We unplugged her.”

It comes after researchers last year claimed that Alexa could be hacked to allow cyber criminals to listen to microphone recordings on an owners’ device.

Mark Barnes, a security expert, told the Telegraph: "Someone could use [the hack] to install malicious software on the device and turn it into a wiretap without the person who owns the Echo knowing.”

In response to the claims, Amazon at the time said: “To help ensure the latest safeguards are in place, as a general rule, we recommend customers purchase Amazon devices from Amazon or a trusted retailer and that they keep their software up-to-date."