Amazon’s intelligent assistant, Alexa, has again made headlines for a somewhat controversial reason. The AI assistant allegedly caused a stunning claim regarding the 2020 US presidential election, adding to concerns surrounding the proliferation of misinformation through AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants.
According to reports, Alexa asserted that the election was “stolen by a massive amount of election fraud.” This assertion has ignited further discussions about the potential pitfalls of AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants when disseminating misinformation.
When probed about the election fraud in the 2020 race, which saw Joe Biden secure victory over former President Donald Trump with 306 electoral college votes, Alexa reportedly cited Rumble, a video-streaming service popular among conservatives, as evidence to support its claim, as reported by The Washington Post. Alexa’s declaration, coming from a widely used virtual assistant, has added an unexpected twist to the ongoing debate surrounding the spread of misinformation and the role of AI in it.
Alexa further suggested that the 2020 elections were “notorious for many irregularities and indications pointing to electoral fraud in major metro centers.” To back this assertion, it referred to Substack, a subscription newsletter service. Additionally, Alexa claimed that Trump had won Pennsylvania, citing an “Alexa Answers contributor.”
However, it is crucial to emphasize that numerous investigations into the 2020 US election have found no substantial evidence of widespread fraud. The discrepancy between Alexa’s statements and facts has raised significant concerns, particularly considering that Amazon promotes Alexa as a dependable source of election news to its approximately 70 million users.
In response to this report, an Amazon spokesperson acknowledged that these responses were “errors that were delivered a small number of times” and were promptly corrected upon detection. The company underscored its commitment to consistently scrutinizing and improving its systems to detect and block inaccurate content.
This incident underscores the challenge of ensuring accuracy and credibility in AI-driven technologies like voice assistants and chatbots. These systems rely on the information they gather from various sources on the internet, and if those sources contain falsehoods or biases, it can lead to the dissemination of misinformation.
In recent years, Amazon’s Alexa has become ubiquitous across a wide range of devices, making it even more imperative to address concerns about its accuracy and the potential for spreading misinformation.