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Amazon's Virtual Assistant Randomly Laughs. A Fix Is Underway

Image of Amazon Echo Dot virtual assistant
You may have read or viewed news reports about random, loud laughter by Amazon's virtual assistant products. Some users reported that the laughter was unprompted and with a different voice from the standard Alexa voice. Many users were understandably spooked.

Clearly, there is a problem. According to BuzzFeed, Amazon is aware of the problem and replied to its inquiry with this statement:

"In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase 'Alexa, laugh.' We are changing that phrase to be 'Alexa, can you laugh?' which is less likely to have false positives, and we are disabling the short utterance 'Alexa, laugh.' We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to 'Sure, I can laugh,' followed by laughter..."

Hopefully, that will fix the #AlexaLaugh bug. No doubt, there will be more news to come about this.

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Chanson de Roland

I can only ask: Why, why, do people have a third party’s, such as Amazon or anyone else’s, extremely sensitive and highly sophisticated listening device in their home or any other place where they would reasonably expect privacy?

This raises an important legal question. The law has concluded that a person typically has a rebuttable presumption of privacy in their home, so that the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches, seizures, or monitoring by government is invoked at a person’s home, which requires the government to get a warrant before it can search or monitor or seize anything in a person’s home. But if a person voluntarily permits a third party to monitor and/or record what happens in his home, has he rebutted his Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy? Without doing the necessary research to definitively opine on this issue, my nonetheless informed opinion is that voluntarily installing a third-party listening device in your home waives and voids and rebuts your Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy at your home, which, therefore, eliminates the government’s need for a warrant to conduct a search, seizure, and/or monitoring at your home.

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