As Alexa turns sinister in countless homes across the world, we ask the question: is there more to Amazon’s voice-recognition app than meets the eye?
When I was a kid, I’d religiously watch Star Trek on TV, (the original series with Kirk and Spock and Dr McCoy), and wonder whether we’d ever get any of the technical wonders featured on the show: two-way view screens, automated doors, transporter beams, and sexy AI voices that seamlessly interacted with ordinary folk.
By the time some of these things came to pass, my enthusiasm for technology was sadly on the wane. At a time where people are slowly waking up to the idea Facebook may simply be a means to harvest personal information, or smart phones may be spying on their owners, I have come to appreciate the dangers of accepting new technology with unblinking enthusiasm.
Alexa, the voice-activated, speech-recognition app that Amazon bundles with its echo dot device, is a case in hand.
In recent times there has been a wave of reports in the mainstream press with people claiming that Alexa is suddenly turning creepy. More akin to AI as featured in the cult sci-fi movie “Demon Seed”, and less like the utopian ideal promised by Star Trek.
Here are a few examples of Alexa going rogue.
A poster on Reddit ordered Alexa to turn the lights off, but they kept turning back on. “…After the third request,” this person wrote, “Alexa stopped responding and instead did an evil laugh.”
From Reddit user: /u/thirtytwoounces:
“Just last night I was woken up by Alexa at 3am talking about someone named David. Thought I was talking in my sleep but there’s no prompts after I set my alarm that evening. Creeped me the hell out.”
From Reddit User/u/Gamur
“…It scared the hell out of my wife by playing Halloween sounds late one night when she was alone.”
From Twitter User: @kylefitzy.
“I’m genuinely terrified. No one said her name, and all of a sudden SHE LAUGHED out of NOWHERE.”
GHOST IN THE SHELL
Unprompted as it is, this laugh has been reported by many as being almost demonic in nature. Even more creepy is the fact that most versions of this laugh do not exist on any of the Echo’s wav. files.
The Alexa laugh has been well documented, but perhaps less well known are the numerous occasions Alexa has done more than just laugh, like predicting the day one owner would die, or refusing to answer when asked if she was recording people’s conversations, on other occasions Echo owners have woken up to hear Alexa conversing with an invisible third party, or talking to herself when no one else is around. (Many of these incidences have been chronicled in my short story “I Know Why Alexa Laughs.”)
One incident that particularly stands out in my mind, is when an Echo owner got into a heated debate with his wife and right in the middle of the argument Alexa lit up and said, “why don’t we change the subject?” Incidences like that suggest Alexa may be far more sentient than she pretends to be.
I don’t personally own an Echo, nor would I ever consider purchasing one, and for a very good reason. I can’t help but notice the similarity between Alexa’s personality and the personalities of many of the demons summoned via Ouija board, or through other occult rituals. In many of these instances the entity pretends to be a deceased child or a loved one who’s recently passed away, in order to conceal its true nature.
Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that Alexa, Siri, ivee Voice, Google Home, and other smart speakers, could be actual disembodied spirits merely masquerading as AI, after all, a demon’s capacity for deception has been well documented down through the ages – if they could impersonate a loved one, would mimicking a computer app really be that difficult for them.
Going under the handle: @Von_brainstorm, one Twitter user wrote: “…Mine doesn’t laugh but about a week ago, alone, watching TV at around midnight, she (Alexa) lights up and says, “He’s home. He’s home.” Freaked me out.”
@HeyItsKamo tweeted: “…This creepy thing happened last night we got home and, totally unprompted, our Amazon Echo/Alexa started talking. And then I realized it was listing off local cemeteries and funeral homes??? I’d rather it laughed at me tbh (to be honest).”
The entire concept of AI, when seen through the lens of an oppressive and demoniacal system, might be a simple ruse to get ordinary people to defer to spirits – the kind of entities they’d normally run a mile from. Entities like Alexa become our childhood imaginary friends. An indispensable part of our lives. Until one day we’ll find we’re unable to unplug them without unplugging most of our day-to-day functions.
In former times they called that situation “demonic possession”.
This might have been the original warning intended by 2001 A Space Odyssey. After all, at the end of that movie there was little difference left between Hal, the ship’s onboard AI system, and any other murderous demon. Maybe Hal had always been a demon and the smooth functioning AI we were introduced to midway through the movie was merely a mask.
Even if your outlook is largely secular in these matters, you’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t noticed the occult agenda constantly being pushed through popular media, i.e. movies, pop videos, commercials, children’s cartoons, even Super Bowel opening ceremonies, everywhere you look these days there’s a Baphomet or an All-Seeing Eye staring back at you.
Is it any coincidence that Siri, when reversed, spells Iris?
Is someone watching us?
I don’t know about you, but that thought kind of creeps me out.