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By Emily McDonald | Marketing & Management Assistant

In the news today, Alexa has been freaking out consumers. Who is Alexa you might ask? She’s basically Amazon’s answer to Siri – it offering an ‘intelligent’ and responsive voice activated ‘assistant’, delivered through a small home speaker.

Recently, consumers have noticed that she has started laughing at random and without the usual light that indicates activity. Amazon has conservatively addressed the issue saying ‘We’re aware of this and working to fix it’, but the event has made some consumers nervous about the abilities of the techonology.

Other than the random laughter being a ‘creepy’ occurrence for those who use it, it has raised concerns about whether this event is a warning sign of the potential dangers of artificial intelligence. AI technology is based on processes which facilitate learning, reasoning and self-correction. Now a component of a range of techonologies, AI is utilised for targeted advertising, photo tagging and custom news feeds as we see on Facebook, digital assistants like Siri and Google Home, and even fully fledged human-like robots like Sophia – it’s application is incredibly diverse.

Some of the public are already aware and concerned about the possibilty that our phones are probably listening to everything that we say. Have you noticed any ads recently for products you have never searched for but maybe your friend told you about? Perhaps our demographics and search habits are conveying more than we realise… but personally, I’m starting to second guess that Google Home speaker I’ve have had my eye on.

So is this something of concern? Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and many others have publicly voiced their fears around AI. Elon Musk has been particularly vocal about the risks going as far to say that ‘The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five-year timeframe. Ten years at most.’

Are we on the brink of an AI revolution? I dont think we will see an army of robots on our streets anytime soon, but if Alexa keeps getting better, personal assistants (and so many more) might soon be out of a job…

What do you think?

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