technology

Is Smart Home AI Useful Or Creepy

There are a lot of ways that smart home AI, like the Amazon Echo, can make life much easier. It’s pretty amazing what the Echo and other artificial intelligence devices can do. But they can also be next-level creepy when they malfunction. A few months ago there was a story going around that the Amazon Echo virtual assistant Alexa would randomly start laughing in a creepy, human sounding, maniacal laugh at random times. Some users who heard the laugh described it as a witch laugh. And Alexa has been known to start talking to an empty room as if there were a person in it and other creepy things. So is having a smart some AI device worth it or is it just too creepy? That depends on your definition of creepy.

Why Is It Creepy?

We experienced several creepy occurrences with our Amazon Echo and finally, I had my husband unplug it and put in the garage because even though it was useful it was just too creepy to keep using. For me, the creepy events started with the laugh that other users were having problems with. According to Amazon, it was some kind of glitch. But it sounded so real, and so menacing, that it made my spine tingle. The first time I heard it I was home with my son. We were reading a book in his bedroom at night and all of a sudden the Echo Dot in his room kicked on, and Alexa gave out that creepy laugh. My son was so scared he ended up sleeping with us in our bed that night.

The next time I heard it I was home alone watching a movie. I had just finished the laundry and I told Alexa to turn off the smart dryer and shut off the laundry room lights. The lights flickered, then went off, then went back on. And she laughed that creepy laugh at me. I grabbed my keys and fled to a coffee shop.

creepy
Imagine Alexa in a place like this

The Laugh

The last time I heard the laugh I was cooking and I was expecting my husband and son any second. My husband had stopped to pick up my son on his way home from work so I was getting dinner ready. I’d had a quiet afternoon and I was looking forward to family dinner. When I was chopping carrots all of a sudden Alexa started laughing. That creepy laugh again. The lights flickered and then the doorbell alarm went off but when I looked at the camera there was no one at the door. Alexa gave off the creepy witch laugh again. And that was it for me.

When my husband came home I told him what happened and I made him look all around the house to be sure there was no one prowling around that could have set off the doorbell. When I was satisfied that there was no one there I told him to put the Echo in the garage and leave it unplugged and boxed up. He thought I was nuts, but he did it anyway. And Alex is staying out in the garage until I’m convinced that the creepy laugh was a glitch like they say and not something more sinister.