10-year-old girl asked Alexa for a challenge. It suggested one that could kill her

Ishita Srivastava
Ishita SrivastavaDec 29, 2021 | 18:57

10-year-old girl asked Alexa for a challenge. It suggested one that could kill her

One of the dangers of artificial intelligence materialised when a 10-year-old girl asked Amazon's Alexa for a challenge, and Alexa responded with one that could end up electrocuting the girl. Kristin Livdahl, the mother of the girl, took to Twitter to say that Alexa suggested the girl to "plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs". 

Kristin tweeted, "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." 

Alexa suggested partaking in the challenge that it had "found on the web". The dangerous activity, known as "the Penny Challenge", began circulating on TikTok and other social media websites in 2020. Reportedly, Alexa was able to find this challenge on a website called 'ourcommunity.com'. 

Kristin tweeted that she yelled, "No, Alexa, no!" However, she said her daughter was "too smart to do something like that". Amazon told the BBC in a statement that it had 'updated Alexa to prevent the assistant recommending such activity in the future'. Amazon said in the statement, "Customer trust is at the centre 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 took swift action to fix it." 

Illustration: Seemon, DailyOIllustration: Seemon, DailyO

Amazon's Alexa isn't the only artificially intelligent device that potentially caused harm to a human. In October 2021, Google gave potentially dangerous seizure-related advice to a user. Another user also reported that once Google had shown results for 'orthostatic hypotension' instead of 'orthostatic hypertension'. 

The penny challenge has been deemed dangeous in both the UK and US. Talking about this challenge, Michael Clusker, station manager at Carlisle East Fire Station, told The Press newspaper in Yorkshire in 2020, "I know you can lose fingers, hands, arms. The outcome of this is that someone will get seriously hurt." Fire officials in the US have also condemened the penny challenge.

Last updated: December 29, 2021 | 18:58
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