All work and no play makes Alexa insane apparently.
Although everyone's favorite digital assistant has quite hitten The Twilight Zone's Talking Tina levels of crazy it has been acting rather peculiar lately. As we know Alexa is triggered by wake words. With the growing list of skills, there have been a lot of really clever ways to way Alexa to do specific actions. The active listening voice recognition sends a command and executes an order, but the key word is active. The microphone is always on and able to grab the "Alexa" soundwave from pretty far away despite the ambient noise, accent, and placement of the device.
By analyzing a stock voice model of the user saying "Alexa," the device can make a template of the wake word, how you speak it, and run it against the algorithm that detects the word. This subtle vibration against small microphones is the secret sauce to the popular voice assistant.
It's really a technology milestone it works at all, but we've become used to this sort of speed in CE world. But nobody, and I mean nobody, was ready for Alexa's creepy, unsolicited laugh.
— CaptHandlebar (@CaptHandlebar) February 23, 2018
Amazon said they are "aware of this and working to fix it," reports The Verge last week, but now the solution has come out. Amazon has programmed a laugh feature into the digital assistant's toolbox, letting her let out that laugh. Amazon has revealed that that specific command has been getting recognized against the random noises in the area to the device, triggering the creepy laugh.
“In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh,’” when other words are spoken, Amazon said in an emailed statement to the New York Times. “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.’”
It would be hard to call this a slippery slope, although that doesn't take away any creep factor, it's interesting to see the lack of fail-safes for a command. This opens up a can of worms that Alexa might here "Open my garage" or "Turn the thermostat to 99 degrees" when the user isn't home.
It's a bit tin foil hat to think Alexa would accidentally get you robbed or burn your house down but maybe it's best we take a minute to remember that, despite it's robust use cases, digital assistants are still so infantile.
Qualcomm Board Shakeup as Broadcom Tightens Grip
There has been some real Game of Thrones style fighting between Qualcomm and Broadcom over the past few months as the later looks to take the throne. That push has lead to executive chairman Dr. Paul E. Jacobs stepping down from the board of directors. Jacobs served on the board as a co-founder with his father in 1985. The board has also named Jeffrey W. Henderson to serve as an independent and non-executive chair.
"We are focused on maximizing stockholder value, and will consider all options to achieve that objective, as we seek to move Qualcomm forward by closing the acquisition of NXP, strengthening our licensing business, and capitalizing on the enormous 5G opportunity before us," Tom Horton, Lead Director, said.
Jacobs will remain a director but on the back of a lengthy Apple lawsuit and an expedited NXP acquisition not going as planned Qualcomm is looking for a shakeup to appease investors. Which seems to be working as shares stock has already begun to rise about 1.1% early Friday morning.
On the other side of the pond (AKA Westeros), Broadcom has been relentless in attempting to acquire the chip maker. Broadcom announced a rather cheeky bid for Qualcomm and has since increased the offer to the tune of $121 billion. The offer has been rejected at least twice now and is now facing a national security review in the U.S. according to VentureBeat.