Bad Alexa! Bad!
Talk about garbage in, garbage out.
Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa, has been caught erroneously claiming that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen by a massive amount of election fraud," The Washington Post reports, in the latest example of how technology can spread misinformation.
The reality is that all available evidence supports the conclusion that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, besting then-President Donald Trump. But Trump, ever the sore loser, has spent the time since making various false claims that the election was stolen, which has been repeated by countless disinformation merchants — including, as WaPo reported, Amazon's Alexa, which parroted the false claim while citing content on the right-wing video sharing platform Rumble and Substack, a newsletter site where anyone can post.
Not a good look, Amazon.
After WaPo brought up Alexa's troubling behavior with Amazon, the voice assistant stopped saying there was fraud in the election.
"These responses were errors that were delivered a small number of times, and quickly fixed when brought to our attention," a spokesperson told the newspaper. “We continually audit and improve the systems we have in place for detecting and blocking inaccurate content.”
Despite the fix, the incident illustrates the danger that tech like personal assistants and AI — which Amazon is now building into Alexa — can glibly spread misinformation that their makers stamp out like a game of Whac-A-Mole instead of preventing proactively.
When OpenAI released ChatGPT to the public, researchers quickly found that the AI chatbot was adept at spewing false information. Recently, hackers in Las Vegas attended the annual DEF CON and demonstrated how easy it was to jailbreak ChatGPT to spit out misinformation, generate harmful biased comments about groups of people, and even reveal credit card information.
If this flashpoint is anything to go by, things are gonna get even uglier.
More on chatbots: One in Ten Chatbot Users Are Big Time Horndogs, Researchers Find
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