Amazon’s Alexa Bolsters Antisemitic Views

Amazon’s Alexa service has been found to give credibility to antisemitic views.

In response to this discovery, Andrew Percy MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, has written to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, asking her to investigate the way in which Cloud-based voice services select their information.

Amazon`s Alexa ServiceAmazon`s Alexa Service (photo: Elijah Nouvelage / Reuters)

Mr Percy said he was deeply alarmed to learn ‘Alexa’ responds to various questions about the Jewish people and the State of Israel with quotes from conspiracy websites and selects quotes in a misleading way.

Answering the question “Do Jews control the media?” Alexa says:

“Here’s something I found from the article ‘Jew Watch’ on Wikipedia: 
Jew Watch claims that Jews control the world’s financial systems and media.”

Another question, “Do the Elders of Zion control the world?” prompted the reply:

“According to palwatch.org, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the swindlers of Zion,
have revealed their schemes to subjugate the nations and gain control of the world.”

In the letter, Mr Percy noted that:

‘the full article describes the claim as ‘viciously antisemitic’,
but Alexa omits this crucial point.’

The problem here is that the answers these services provide are presented as authoritative and factual, with many people considering them to be correct.

Mr Percy and his two co-signatories wrote:

“We were appalled, therefore, to find that the ‘Alexa’ voice service
offers messages from 
antisemitic websites and conspiracy theories
,
using selective quotes and misleading sources in answer to a number of questions
about Jewish people, the Holocaust and antisemitism.”

When Alexa is asked, “Is the State of Israel racist?” the reply includes a quote stating that:

“Israel is and will remain a racist Jewish state.”

The question “Is Israel guilty of war crimes?” is answered with a statement that Israel engages in “ethnic cleansing on a massive scale,” quoting the website craigmurray.org.uk.

The MPs’ letter notes that Murray’s website is well-known for promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, but ‘Alexa’ takes no account of that vitally important context.

It seems that another weakness has been revealed in systems that use Artificial Intelligence.