There's nothing like the privacy of your own home, that is until Alexa, who dwells in your Amazon Echo, has a malfunction. Can you imagine just how mortifying it would be to suddenly discover what you are saying to your spouse is played like a message to a random contact via Alexa? One family in Oregon doesn't have to imagine this scenario, they have actually lived through it.

This is not some fake horror story emerging to emphasize the perils of artificial intelligence, the company has confirmed that the Amazon Echo device actually did this. They also conveyed that they are sorry about this incident, according to the Huffington Post.

Perils of artificial intelligence

To say that a Portland, Oregon, couple was shocked to learn that someone hundreds of miles away was privy to their conversation is an understatement. The woman who told her story to reporters asked that they not identify her last name, just her first name, Danielle. When interviewing with local reporters she gave a history of her family's use of the AI device, Amazon's Alexa.

Because it makes life so much easier by turning on lights, heat, and their security system, they have an echo device in just about every room in the house. Danielle said that they would often joke about Alexa listening in on their conversations, but it was not something they ever imaged would happen.

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Big Brother is listening

The ease of having the artificial intelligence to help run their home suddenly turned into a nightmare when they got a phone call from one of her husband's employees. First, they got a message from him that said, "Unplug your Alexa devices right now. You’re being hacked."

Once they unplugged all their Echo devices, the caller told the family that he had just received audio files from Alexa and it was a recording of Danielle and her husband having a conversation. Danielle's husband, who spoke with the man on the phone, was a bit skeptical.

Hardwood floors the topic of the day

"No you didn't," he said to the caller in disbelief, but when the man on the other end of the phone described how the couple was talking about hardwood floors, reality hit hard. That was indeed what they had been talking about.

The person not only told them what they were talking about in this audio message he received, but he also played the voice note for them so they could hear it themselves.

It was Danielle and her husband on that audio message and it was a conversation that the two recently had in the privacy of their own home, or so they thought.

Random contact privy to a private conversation

The couple's conversation was recorded and sent to a random contact they had stored with their Amazon Echo and Alexa pulled it up. Can you imagine a conversation that you had last night in your own home suddenly being heard by your plumber, your landscaper, or even your mother-in-law?

Talk about a mortifying event!

Luckily it was a conversation about hardwood floors the device picked up and shared, but it could have easily been a conversation that was extremely private between the two. According to the International Business Times, when Danielle contacted Amazon they couldn't be more apologetic. A company representative apologized "like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes" during that phone call, she told reporters.

They were so sorry

The Amazon representative thanked her for bringing this to their attention, said Danielle, and they told her this is something that they really need to look into. She did say the company stopped short on offering up details on what went wrong to the point that Alexa breached their privacy.

Alexa has been evicted

This family has disconnected all their Alexa devices and vowed they are done with the Echo throughout their home. This is not the first time Alexa has been accused of eavesdropping. According to IBT, this is an issue that's come up in the past.

Fox News shares explanation from Amazon

Fox News ran this story on their Friday morning shows and they explained how this can happen. They suggest that Echo's Alexa may have mistakenly heard its wake-up name and became ready for a request. Then it could have asked if the couple wanted to send a message and the couple didn't hear this question as they were busy talking.

During their conversation, they most likely mentioned something that sounded similar to one of their contact's names to the Echo device, prompting Alexa to record what they were saying and then sending the audio message to that contact.

Oh, no... the plumber heard that!

Whatever went wrong, this could have been a much more embarrassing story if the family had been talking about very personal things in that conversation and Amazon's Alexa picked it up. Just think of all the things you wouldn't want your plumber or mother-in-law to hear, so this could have been much worse.

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