Amazon’s Alexa Told 10-Year-Old to Do Hazardous ‘Challenge’

Company says 'error' has been fixed
By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
December 29, 2021 Updated: December 29, 2021

Amazon Alexa’s recent reply to a young girl who asked it to present a challenge left the girl’s mother shocked.

Kristin Livdahl, a writer, said her 10-year-old girl “just asked Alexa on our Echo for a challenge.”

Alexa came back with something it said it found on the internet.

“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,” it said.

Alexa set a timer for 20 minutes to complete the challenge, which could have electrocuted the girl if it was actually done.

Livdahl, though, said she intervened.

“I was right there and yelled, ‘No, Alexa, no!’ like it was a dog. My daughter says she is too smart to do something like that anyway,” she said on Twitter.

“We were doing some physical challenges, like laying down and rolling over holding a shoe on your foot, from a Phy Ed teacher on YouTube earlier. Bad weather outside. She just wanted another one,” she added.

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to The Epoch Times in an email that the incident took place.

“Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers. 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 spokesperson said.

Livdahl, meanwhile, was alerted that there’s a kid’s mode for Alexa, and said she would be setting it up.

“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,” she said.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.