In May 2021, a video was posted to TikTok that supposedly showed Amazon's Alexa voice assistant making a scary and specific prediction about a future event that will supposedly take place in Miami, Florida.
The video, which has been viewed more than 16 million times, shows TikTok user Jon Buckhouse asking his Alexa-enabled device "what will happen to Florida in 2025?" Alexa then responds: "On Sept. 4, 2025, at 3:08 p.m., Florida will be hit by a Category 5 hurricane with winds as high as 205 miles per hour. Miami will be completely destroyed."
This video does not show a genuine prediction from Alexa.
When you ask Alexa a question like this, the device will generally search online (Alexa's search engine is powered by Bing) for an answer. When we asked Alexa "What will happen to Florida in 2025," the device brought up a news article from the Capital Gazette about a potential shortage of doctors. But other answers are possible. When we asked this same question of Siri, the Apple's virtual assistant, we were presented a news article about climate change and the potential for portions of South Florida to be underwater by 2025. In neither case was Alexa making a prediction or telling the future. The voice assistant was simply searching the internet for relevant information pertaining to our question.
So how was this video created? We're not exactly sure what method Buckhouse uses to create these videos, but this TikTok account is full of similar videos that supposedly show Alexa foretelling future events. A recent video showed the Amazon device saying that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would soon be president — but one possibility is that the video creator makes use of "Alexa Blueprints." This tool, introduced in 2018, allows users to customize responses to specific questions. For example, you can program Alexa to give a specific response to a personal questions, such as "What's the Wi-Fi password?" Or, you can program Alexa to seemingly "predict" future events.
Tech Crunch reported in 2018:
Amazon this morning is introducing “Alexa Blueprints,” a new way for any Alexa owner to create their own customized Alexa skills or responses, without needing to know how to code. The idea is to allow Alexa owners to create their own voice apps, like a trivia game or bedtime stories, or teach Alexa to respond to questions with answers they design – like “Who’s the best mom in the world?,” for example.
You could also create a skill that includes helpful information for the babysitter, which could be triggered by the command, “Alexa, open My Sitter,” Amazon suggests.
“Alexa Skill Blueprints is an entirely new way for you to teach Alexa personalized skills just for you and your family,” explained Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Alexa, in a statement about the launch. “You don’t need experience building skills or coding to get started—my family created our own jokes skill in a matter of minutes, and it’s been a blast to interact with Alexa in a totally new and personal way.”
While Amazon's voice assistant has developed a number of skills over the years, it has not yet learned how to foretell the future. It has, however, learned how to give customized responses.
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