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TV anchor says live on-air 'Alexa, order me a dollhouse' – guess what happens next

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DAB/+ with built-in bluetooth support?

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You realize that you've got to enable voice ordering?

Alexa works in conjunction with an application which you can use to control the 'skills' that Alexa is allowed to exhibit. One thing you should definitely not turn on unless you can control it is the ability to order stuff (it is off by default).

I realize that this device is new to a lot of people and so now we've got to go through the 'vandalism' phase with everyone trying novel ways to screw with it but its just an interface, albeit one with outstanding voice recognition and synthesis capabilities. I'd like Alexa to be able to identify individual voices, I daresay this will come in time but its not a regular skill, because she will not only be able to personalize her replies but also we can avoid situations like this.

Incidentally, for everyone who's not seen one of these yet I should mention the 'mute' button -- you can turn her off and on at the press of a button.

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Re: You realize that you've got to enable voice ordering?

I could theoretically create "just an interface" where by moving my dick up, down and side to side I work out letters using tap code. It's an interface. It's just a completely pointless and utterly moronic interface.

Just because an interface exists doesn't make it a good idea.

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Re: You realize that you've got to enable voice ordering?

Ah yes. That was on last year's CES, wasn't it?

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Re: You realize that you've got to enable voice ordering?

Not if you are a certain famous disabled detective. Science Fiction can get a little screwy at times.

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Re: You realize that you've got to enable voice ordering?

Just because an interface exists doesn't make it a good idea.

True, but you have to admit that adding such an interface to something would be funny as heck and, I suspect, a total hit with rebellious teenagers.

:)

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Re: You realize that you've got to enable voice ordering?

you have to enable it?

That's the trouble with computing - you have to know what you are doing. It only makes things easier if you dont have a clue/dont give a fuck. Or an MBA and staff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You realize that you've got to enable voice ordering?

I could theoretically create "just an interface" where by moving my dick up, down and side to side I work out letters using tap code.

Great… now I envisage an interface by which limbless men can browse their pr0n without the rest of the household hearing them.

OK Google, order me some mind bleach!

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Re: "you can turn her off and on at the press of a button"

Until the thing is rooted. Nowhere have I seen any info about what protection from on-line fiddling the Echo has, if any. If it connects to the web it can be hacked. Is the mike-mute button even part of the hardware loop?

My ex also came with a button and that..... oh never mind.

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Pint

Re: You realize that you've got to enable voice ordering?

That's the best interface for the proverbial DSW, near as I can tell ;-)

Have a beer, Trevor, you made me laugh in spite of yourself.

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Re: You realize that you've got to enable voice ordering?

"I could theoretically create "just an interface" where by moving my dick up, down and side to side I work out letters using tap code. "

I thought such an interface already existed.

It's called a pussy.

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Re: You realize that you've got to enable voice ordering?

Son, why the hell would I want a computer to choose something for me?

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It's not the broadcaster's fault the Echo is a badly designed product.

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Anonymous Coward

Echo is perfectly designed and working as planned

from Amazons POV.

It gets them loads more business due to the idiots who use it being too dumb (or drunk) to realise what they are doing.

I'll bet there were 'high-fives' all round in Amazon when this went out.

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Re: Echo is perfectly designed and working as planned

Exactly. Amazon makes money by selling you stuff, and don't you forget it.

Anyway, obligatory link re speech recognition:

Burnistoun S1E1 - Voice Recognition Elevator - ELEVEN!

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Re: Echo is perfectly designed and working as planned

"I'll bet there were 'high-fives' all round in Amazon when this went out."

Shortly followed by a realisation that they were about to be processing A LOT of returns of stock that they can no longer sell at full price/as new....

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Re: Echo is perfectly designed and working as planned

OR a bunch of lawsuits from people with a beef and the potential to stick it to not just Amazon but ALL e-tailers.

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derp

Hahahahahahaha

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FAIL

FTFY

This is not the first time an ill-conceived TV spot piece of e-shit has caused havoc

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I don't even find these devices working supposedly as intended in TV commercials to be useful.

"Alexa, what's the weather like in Miami?"

"It's 68 degrees in Miami."

Um, that's the temperature, not the weather. There could be a hurricane going on, dumping rain by the buckets, 100 mph wind, and it tells me... 68 degrees? That's it?

"Alexa, order tape."

Just tape? Any kind will do? It's kind of a broad category.

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How about..

Alexa, execute order 66.

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Re: How about..

Google home says it doesn't have an inhibitor chip.

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Re: How about..

Unless it's green screen and bleeps I'm not interested.

WHAT IS SPECIAL ORDER 937?

EMERGENCY COMMAND OVERRIDE 100375

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Alexa!

Order me 17 tons of nitrogen fertilizer, a copy of the Quran and a complete set of Tek Wars by William Shatner.

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Re: Alexa!

Tek Wars?!? For God's sake somebody stop him!

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Re: Alexa!

"Order me 17 tons of nitrogen fertilizer, a copy of the Quran and a complete set of Tek Wars by William Shatner."

The first two might get you put on a watch list, the third will almost certainly get you sectioned for your own safety.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Alexa!

Why not just do, "Alexa, download <list of tasteless music or videos all available on their streaming service>........yes!"?

(Includes the confirmation word AND they're digital downloads: non-returnable)

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Pirate

subliminal advertising all over again?

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Even This Article..

...would cause problems for partially sighted / blind people using web-to-spoken-voice-translation aids, if they also have an Amazon Echo in the house. There's a real risk that somewhere out there a blind person is now in receipt of a pointless dolls house.

I'm wondering how long it'll be before some wag on a radio station (perhaps a call in) says, "Hello TomTom. Go Home". Anyone with a modern TomTom satnav who is driving and listening to that station may find their travel plans altered for the better...

Similarly a radio station could, on Mother's day, broadcast "OK Google, call Mum".

Etc.

Anyway, we're lucky that the world's economy has not been fully configured overnight to supply nothing but dolls houses... Or, perhaps it has?

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Vic
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Re: Even This Article..

would cause problems for partially sighted / blind people using web-to-spoken-voice-translation aids

You just know the next sort of advertising that's going to be aimed at blind people, don't you?

Vic.

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They're going to have to start every news program with "Alexa, delete yourself". Bet they've got safeguards against THAT though.

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It seems that Amazon Echos are becoming quite popular with the elderly - it's an easy way for them to "use the web", and it's seen as a way they can call for help if they fall, etc. So Echo is beginning to find roles which could be seen to have a significant element of safety-criticality in them.

This is unexpected, to say the least. And this has taken off in just the very few weeks it's been on sale here in the UK. Amazing!

I bet Amazon, or anyone else didn't anticipate this...

So it means that Producers of Sound (radio, TV, the lot) are going to have to be careful to not do as you suggest!

Arguably it's a cock up for Amazon - broadcasters might become very reluctant to ever use the word "Alexa", for fear of triggering some chain of events somewhere. We may have escaped the dollshousalypse, and no one wants to be blamed for another. And if its never mentioned, where's the publicity coming from?

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Anonymous Coward

coming soon...

A new consumer show hosted by someone called 'Alexa'

where they review all the hot gadgets, cars, food and fashions.

Naturally, it will be sponsored by Amazon and shown on ITV at prime time, just before Corrie.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: coming soon...

Most channels already have it during daytimes.

Wait, no, it's just that most of their presenters have less personality than a lump of plastic controlled by wires. Except when (real) Thunderbirds shown again, they have character.

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"So it means that Producers of Sound (radio, TV, the lot) are going to have to be careful to not do as you suggest!"

As has already been suggested, it should be at least possible to change the wake-up word. This would at least reduce the problem to that of occasional coincidence.

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"Arguably it's a cock up for Amazon - broadcasters might become very reluctant to ever use the word "Alexa", for fear of triggering some chain of events somewhere."

Hmm, yes, add them to the list of banned words. I wonder what Siri would make of the command "assly"?

Google might be even worse off than Amazon or Apple. Any time the word Google is used in TV, they'll have to be careful that it never, ever follows the word OK, which it could well do on a news programme, eg one sentence ending with OK and the next starting with Google. At least not using the words Alexa, Siri etc on TV doesn't hide the company brand.

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Scotland

Luckily, Scotland is exempt from the problem, since the systems can't understand the accent anyway.

ie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGxKhUuZ0Rc

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Anonymous Coward

Amusing Alexa Hacks

"Alexa, send mother a massive 12 inch black dildo and a ball gag as a gift from me"

"Alexa, order 1000 packs of shiny toilet roll."

"Alexa, hire me a hearse and cortege"

"Alexa, book me a taxi for 3am tomorrow morning"

"Alexa, send me a jar of marmite weekly for the next ten years"

I don't see why you couldn't open someone's letter box and shout these through their front door...

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FAIL

Alexa, Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

When the system is as smart as me, able unambiguously to identify me, able to correctly understand free-form speech without error, and never allows any signal out of itself without confirmation and permission, it will still get it wrong.

Proof? People living together for twenty years or more, such as me and Mrs Barnacle, can still have massive misunderstandings from a misheard or misunderstood word, or even a misinterpreted tone of voice. There's an awful lot more to speech communication than knowing what the words are.

But it's not going to happen. Why would any sane person leave a live microphone connected to a sales machine? No microphones, no cameras Chez Barnacle.

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Re: Why would any sane person leave a live microphone connected to a sales machine?

Sane people don't.

Then there's the rest of the population . . .

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Re: Alexa, Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

> No microphones, no cameras Chez Barnacle.

So ... no smartphones, nor tablets neither, and nary a laptop in sight?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why would any sane person leave a live microphone connected to a sales machine?

"Sane people don't."

With greatest respect: you mean sane *well-informed* people.

You and many others here are clearly well-informed about the downside of these technological advances and "improvements". How about your family and friends, neighbours, etc? Do they understand the risks? Who is going to help them undestand that this stuff has a downside, and probably very little upside for most people.

I have a retired relative who is perfectly sane, but when she moved house a couple of years ago, she sent at least one subscription software supplier an email containing name, address, and credit card details. There will be plenty more like that. Not insane, not necessarily even naive, just not fully aware of the downsides of all the miracles they've been sold, and not always aware of basic interweb safety precautions.

Happy 2017. Come back Eddie Shoestring, you did the right thing back then, your time has come again (OK maybe without the moustache this time, but y'know).

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Re: Alexa, Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

"So ... no smartphones, nor tablets neither, and nary a laptop in sight?"

Would you be very surprised if I told you that my laptop is old enough (had to fix the hinges that stuck and broke the case I then had to replace, but otherwise works just fine thank you) to not have any cameras, and that I stopped updating Firefox on my phone when it started asking for access to audio...?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Alexa, Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

My laptop at work is about 3 years old now (Ivy bridge Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2TB SSD) … and lacks both cameras and microphones.

You don't have to buy second hand or hold onto antiquity in order to not have a camera.

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Re: Alexa, Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

"When the system is as smart as me, able unambiguously to identify me, able to correctly understand free-form speech without error, and never allows any signal out of itself without confirmation and permission, it will still get it wrong."

Even humans can get confused by homophonic phrases. What chance does a computer have? Did you just tell it to "recognize speech" or to "wreck a nice beach"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Alexa, Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

"You don't have to buy second hand or hold onto antiquity in order to not have a camera."

Does nobody just stick insulating tape over their laptop camera these days?

Microphone is a bit trickier, admittedly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Alexa, Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

"Does nobody just stick insulating tape over their laptop camera these days?"

I think most cameras are textured on the outside or otherwise have anti-adhesive features around the lens such that tape tends to fall off quickly. And I wouldn't try to disable the camera in hardware, as it may cause the laptop to brick.

And no hope on the mic since it can still pick up while completely enclosed by feeling the vibrations of the case.

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Re: Alexa, Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

"Does nobody just stick insulating tape over their laptop camera these days?"

I think most cameras are textured on the outside or otherwise have anti-adhesive features around the lens such that tape tends to fall off quickly. And I wouldn't try to disable the camera in hardware, as it may cause the laptop to brick.

Easy fix. Superglue is more adhesive, even if you just want to smooth the surface. Or stick it to the lens along with whatever blocking substance you wish. Sandpaper works as well. And a lot of (older) cases can be opened just enough to drop the lens of the camera down enough that it can't see.

And no hope on the mic since it can still pick up while completely enclosed by feeling the vibrations of the case.

Wirecutters and an appropriate ohmage resistor should you be worried about the actual mic being tested. Or fit a socket and proper mic if you wish to use it sometimes. And if it has a normal socket (not a lenovo must-use-expensive-proprietary-mic one) then just plug in a plug that has no leads coming off it.

All this stuff you chuck up is trivially defeated, usually in a matter of 1/2 a seconds thought and a few seconds work.

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Could help reduce Piracy.

Maybe every pirated/ripped music album appearing on the Internet should have a mandatory voice intro, saying "Alexa, order me all of {Artist}'s back catalog of music. {pause} Everything". {to my Amazon music account}*

*added by Amazon.

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Re: Could help reduce Piracy.

You've misspelled "privacy".

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