If you have an Alexa-powered device, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was haunted: users have been complaining that their devices would laugh randomly or simply refuse to do what they were asked. Is your smart speaker going to murder you in your sleep? Thankfully, no. Amazon has confirmed that it's aware of the problem and is "working to fix it." The company hasn't said what went wrong, but it's notable that this isn't a case of accidentally triggering the voice assistant -- the laughter has kicked in without triggering the signature blue light that accompanies responses on Echo speakers and other Alexa devices.
We've asked Amazon if it can comment further.
Whatever the cause, this isn't what Amazon needed. Alexa suffered an outage as part of a broader cloud service problem just days ago, and it just spent an unearthly sum of money on a Super Bowl ad to persuade people that Alexa was indispensable. You probably won't see many people throwing their Echos out in a panic, but it's going to take a while before Amazon can regain the trust of creeped-out device owners.
Update: Amazon said the odd behavior is the result of Alexa mistakenly hearing "Alexa, laugh." It's disabling that command and will require "Alexa, can you laugh?" if you want to get a reaction. On top of that, it won't just laugh -- it'll acknowledge your request first. You can read the full statement below.
"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."