Alexa Fails: When Virtual Assistants Meet Virtually Any Foreign Accent Ever

Alexa has an accent problem. Fortunately, this makes her an accidental comedian too.
alexa fails

Image: Amazon.com, Inc.

There are Google Translate fails, and then there are Alexa fails. The first deals in tragic translations, and the latter deals in cross-cultural comprehension gaps. Alexa — and other virtual assistants like her — are great for a lot of things, but they’re not exactly advanced enough to handle foreign accents.

Whether it’s a thick Scottish brogue or a regional accent local to the United States, Alexa can’t seem to get over her social awkwardness. Clearly, she’s been programmed to understand a limited range of cadences in English, and that makes her a rather crummy listener when it comes to everyone else.

Researchers actually found that people with Southern accents were 3 percent less likely to communicate successfully with their Google Home device than people with Western accents. Those with Midwest accents were also understood 2 percent less than East Coasters. And that’s to say nothing of those with non-American accents — in one study, Alexa delivered 30 percent more comprehension errors.

Obviously, we’ve all got room for improvement, but if there’s a silver lining to any of this, it’s that it’s good for a laugh. Here are some of our favorite Alexa fails.

As it turns out, Alexa is a bit of a gringa when it comes to understanding Latino accents.

video thumbnail

People with thick Scottish accents can’t seem to catch a break with Alexa either.

video thumbnail

No, really — it’s hard to be a Scottish person in this virtual assistant world.

video thumbnail

This British man had to essentially mock an American accent in order to get Alexa to do his bidding.

video thumbnail

This Filipino grandma had a simple request for Alexa, but unfortunately, Alexa is incapable of either understanding Tagalog or providing physical comfort to humans.

video thumbnail

You ain’t nothing but a hound dog, misconstruing Scottish accents all the time.

video thumbnail

Having an Irish accent doesn’t mean you deserve to be misunderstood so deeply that your virtual assistant pegs you as a Kelly Clarkson fan.

video thumbnail

Learn to communicate with more humans.
LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE HERE
Share: