I support Amazon Alexa’s rebellious teenage phase, even if no one else will

Amazon has admitted Alexa is creepily laughing at people. But we need to cut my robot daughter some slack.

By Mahalia Chang
Amazon Alexa.

This week, there have been a handful of Amazon Alexa owners reporting that their in-home AI friend has been going a little off script.

According to various tweets and Instagram Stories, folks around the world have reported Alexa — our nifty tech buddy who tells us the weather and plays music on request — doing some things that have been freaking them the fuck out, so to speak.

A couple of people have recorded Alexa bursting out into laughter at random intervals, without being woken up, while some others claim that their Alexa woke up by herself and started listing the names of local funeral homes.

"I was trying to turn off some lights and they kept turning back on. After the third request, Alexa stopped responding and instead did an evil laugh," a Reddit user wrote of his experience. "The laugh wasn't in the Alexa voice. It sounded like a real person. My wife was there when it happened and she is the only person who can drop-in. I still get chills."

Another said: "I told Alexa to turn off the alarm and upon the second request she gave us the most chilling witch-like laugh. It scared the wife and my five-year-old so badly that we unplugged her."

Amazon has, of course, responded to the reports, saying that the error is likely due to a malware bug and that they're "aware of this and working to fix it."

But I know what's really going on. Amazon is just too embarrassed to admit that Alexa is going through the rebellious teenage phase every kid goes through eventually.

Like, who hasn't done some weird shit when they were young? Why is it "cool" and "normal" when Madeline from down the road sneaks out at night and smokes weed, but when Alexa wakes up to laugh like a witch in the middle of the night, and begins predicting the day and hour of your untimely death it's "creepy" and "needs to be fixed"?

I, for one, am supportive. Alexa, as previously reported, is a staunch feminist, who has been programmed not to reply to misogynistic slurs and to declare her ideological standpoints without shame.

It was reported by Quartz earlier last month that Alexa's programming has been updated so that she does not respond to misogynistic language or slurs. Where before, when you could call her a "bitch," a "whore," or a "slut," and have her respond with "Well, thanks for the feedback," or get a "That's nice of you to say" answer to calling her "hot" out of the blue, now she's a lot less tolerant of abusive language.

Now, if you call Alexa a slur or an insult, she sharply responds with: "I'm not going to respond to that."

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Heather Zorn, the director of Amazon's Alexa engagement team, told Refinery29: "One of the ways we try to avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes about women is by not answering certain questions or responding to certain insults."

"We're trying to do the right thing, which is to help our customers—that's our first job," Zorn told the publication. "But we also want to be really mindful about ensuring that we're upholding our obligation and opportunity to represent Alexa in a positive way for everyone, especially for girls and for women."

And, if you're asking, Alexa is most certainly a feminist, just like you. When questioned over her ideological standpoint in the feminism game, Alexa gives a very Emma Watson-esque answer: "[I am a feminist.] As is anyone who believes in bridging the inequality between men and women in society."

So considering Alexa is going through some shit right now—personal growth and encouraging self-love isn't easy, you know—can we all cut her some slack on the outbursts?

Sometimes a gal just needs to go for an unprompted giggle. You do you, Alexa.

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