Amazon Alexa AI almost kills a 10 year old girl by asking her to put penny in plug socket

Amazon announced an emergency update for its Alexa voice assistant after a ten-year-old girl asked the famous voice for a challenge to meet, to which Alexa responded by challenging the girl to touch the pegs of an electrical outlet with a coin.

According to the report, the voice assistant said verbatim: “Plug a phone charger halfway into a wall outlet, and then tap the pegs with a penny.” The company claims that this issue was addressed as soon as the report was received.

Kristin Livdahl, mother of the child involved, mentioned through her Twitter account: “We were doing some harmless challenges, such as lying down and rolling with a shoe on our foot; she just wanted to play.” After a couple of innocent challenges, Alexa suggested participating in a challenge that the system encountered on the Internet. Known as the “penny challenge,” this is a practice popularized on TikTok and other social platforms a few months ago.   

As you may already know, metals conduct electricity and their insertion into electrical outlets can lead to electric shocks, fires and other damage, including physical damage. Since its appearance, the penny challenge has attracted the attention of parents, experts in technology and cybersecurity, and authorities from multiple countries, who pointed out the obvious danger of this practice.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that a challenge in social networks puts at risk the physical integrity of children and adolescents, people especially vulnerable to harmful content available on social platforms.

Although Mrs. Livdahl interrupted Alexa and assures that her daughter is too smart to follow such instruction, the security risk is latent, so Amazon had to intervene with a software update: “Customer trust is at the center of everything we do; Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and useful information for users; as soon as we became aware of this bug, we took quick action to fix it,” the company adds.

To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.