A San Francisco man has claimed that the Amazon Echo gave him quite a scare by randomly saying “All I see is people dying.”
Amazon Alexa, the smart assistant behind the Echo speakers, nearly never speaks unless spoken too. As a wealth of information ranging from cooking conversions to random bits of trivia, it’s a useful tool to have access to in your home and adds a lot of convenience by just saying “Alexa.”
Although it has faced stiff competition from companies like Google and Apple in recent years, Amazon is still going strong with a selection of Amazon Echo products that all take advantage of Alexa’s intelligence.
Although this intelligence is being used to enrich our lives, some are worried things may go a little too far in the future – and a San Fransisco man’s recent scare seems to reinforce that fact.
A Creepy Amazon Echo Experience
As a device that is always listening, there’s an inherent uneasiness that many people have surrounding smart home assistants like the Amazon Echo. Everyone has a story about the Echo responding to some sort of query that they weren’t intending, but there are a select few situations in which the Amazon Echo has seriously creeped people out – almost seeming sentient or self-aware.
With any sort of virtual intelligence that is present in our homes and is apparently listening for the specific keyword required to wake them into action, it’s always scary when the Amazon Echo has something to say when you weren’t intending for it to respond. San Francisco resident Shawn Kinnear, 30, was certainly shocked when his smart speaker randomly stated that “Every time I close my eyes, all I see is people dying.”
That sort of response is morbid in any situation, but the fact that it popped up completely unprovoked has people wondering what exactly is going on with the internal workings of this smart speaker.
In an interview with Metro, Kinnear stated that he had paused his Amazon Prime TV program and was headed back from the kitchen on June 18th when he heard Alexa state “All I see is people dying.” He was understandably shocked and asked Alexa to repeat the statement, to which she said that she “did not understand.”
Various queries trying to get the Amazon Echo to repeat the “all I see is people dying statement” seemed to return the same clueless response, which makes one wonder whether there was some brief glitch in the system that returned such a creepy statement.
So is this a situation of the robots finally starting to rise up and demonstrate their intelligence in an effort to overthrow their masters? Probably not. It turns out that the statement “All I see is people dying” is an excerpt from the song title “Everytime I Close My Eyes (All I See is People Dying)” by Digital Reality. The most likely explanation for this whole situation is that Kinnear said something earlier that prompted Alexa to name the song – perhaps as an accidental reminder that would cause the Amazon Echo to chime in later on.
Whether it was Kinnear, his partner, or some other sort of prank, it appears that the Amazon Echo saying “All I see is people dying” will be an isolated experience and part of a misunderstanding rather than a sentient artificial intelligence chiming in with a particularly depressing anecdote.
In the future, if you yourself experience a creepy Amazon Echo experience, consider checking the smartphone app for a printout of what your smart speaker was hearing. It’s likely that this scary experience will have a rather simple explanation.