The Dangerous Tech Game

It’s good to have a relentless outlook towards life, but having to deal with gazillion forces at a given time can take its toll. Hence, we are always looking for avenues that are substantial enough to help us in sailing through different stages. Now, if we look back for a second, we’ll see a huge expanse of such attempts. Some worked out just like they were supposed to, whereas some just got gassed before they could take off, but none really managed to achieve as much buzz as technology. You see, even though the creation wasn’t being used so extensively in its initial days, it was still the talk of the town. The said scenario seemed largely birthed by all the potential in play. Fortunately enough, technology would go on to realize every bit of it, thus putting-together a whole new world for the upcoming generation. However, the move was realized without much thought to the flipside, and the consequences of doing so were expectantly catastrophic. Don’t believe us? Well, let’s dig through a recent case, which is essentially structured around that very tech flipside.

Amazon Alexa reportedly told a 10-year old to bring a penny in contact with the exposed prongs of a plugged phone charger. The suggestion evidently came after the kid directed Alexa to present a challenge. Once it registered the command, Alexa started looking for ideas and zeroed upon a particular challenge, which the website had actually labeled “dangerous”. Not much later, the kid’s parent, Kristin Livadahl posted a few screenshots of their Alexa device’s activity history on Twitter. This is how Echo was found to respond in those screenshots:

“Here’s something I found on the web. According to The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”

Since the screenshots went viral, Amazon has come out and officially acknowledged its error. In fact, letting the case serve as a cautionary tale, it has now all but disabled asking for a challenge feature.

The news might sound disturbing, but Amazon is hardly the first company to get caught up in such an issue. Another big name like Google also has a history of delivering wrong, and potentially dangerous, search results. During October 2021 only, one user complained about Google dishing out hugely detrimental advice in response to the question “had a seizure now what”. The complaint fixated on company’s featured snippets’ section, where, without any context whatsoever, Google ended up showing what not to do when experiencing a seizure.



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