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Was Elon Musk Right About AI? Amazon’s Alexa Challenges 10-Year-Old To Electrocute Herself

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Amazon Echo and Elon Musk

AI, or artificial intelligence, is the intelligence displayed by machines, such as machine learning, computation, and your Amazon Alexa's ability to comprehend and act on the words you say, for example.

In recent years, the development of artificial intelligence has been increasing exponentially, causing the self-proclaimed “technoking” Elon Musk to give several warnings about an AI takeover.

As it turns out, he may have been right.

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Amazon Alexa challenged a 10-year-old to electrocute herself.

Kristin Livdahl posted on Twitter just after Christmas to talk about how her daughter had been asking their Amazon Alexa for physical challenges to do.

She mentioned that one of the challenges was “laying down and rolling over holding a shoe on your foot, from a Phy Ed teacher on YouTube earlier,” and that she just wanted another one because the weather outside was bad.

The ever-obedient Alexa delivered, though not in a way any parent would ever hope for.

Apparently, Alexa's challenge went like this: plug a phone charger halfway into an electrical socket so that the prongs are exposed and hold a penny to the exposed prongs.

Please, do not try this at home, because what is likely to happen is that you risk being electrocuted until the fuse breaks and the electricity goes out.

Livdahl heard the Alexa spit out the challenge and immediately “yelled, ‘No, Alexa, no!’ like it was a dog.” 

Fortunately, she also added, “My daughter says she is too smart to do something like that anyway.”

However, that doesn’t stop the question from being asked: how could this happen in the first place?

"Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers," the company said in a statement. "As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it."'

They fixed the problem and the AI takeover was quelled, but does this mean that Musk was right?

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Will artificial intelligence eventually take over?

Musk, for years, has warned that AI is quickly becoming "better" than humans and that eventually “Robots will be able to do everything better than us,” as he explained in a speech at a 2017 National Governors Association meeting. 

“I have exposure to the most cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned by it,” he added.

He frequently talks about the dangers that AI could eventually pose and even references “The Terminator" that, although it’s a work of fiction, could parallel reality if humans aren’t careful.

Musk has also dabbled in AI and robots regardless of his own warnings, recently unveiling his new “Tesla Bot” that is supposed to eliminate the need for humans to work menial jobs so they can focus on bigger things.

Additionally, his AI technology in the Tesla vehicles is what allows the autopilot feature.

The website where Alexa pulled that “socket challenge” from mentions a warning, saying that the results could cause a fire, but the little speaker failed to mention that part, and although they made a fix for that problem, another one is surely on the horizon.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.