Jeff Bezos once got so frustrated with Alexa’s lack of intelligence that he told Alexa to ‘shoot yourself’ – and Amazon’s engineers heard it

Amazon Echo
Amazon’s Alexa is set to answer people’s queries, from the weather to CDC guidelines.

  • The test models of Amazon Alexa-powered devices frustrated employees and even Jeff Bezos.
  • Engineers once heard Bezos tell the device to “shoot yourself in the head.”
  • Other testers said it was a stupid product and would hardly respond correctly.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When Amazon was first testing what would eventually become “Alexa,” some workers and even the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos were frustrated with its performance, according to a new book about the business.

Bezos tested the Alexa-powered device – then a project referred to as the “Doppler” – at his home in Seattle.

“In pique of frustration over its lack of comprehension, he told Alexa to go ‘shoot yourself in the head,'” according to author Brad Stone’s new book, “Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire,” which was released Tuesday.

Engineers who reviewed interactions with the device heard Bezos’ comment and thought the project was done for.

Read more: Big Tech has a new battleground: self-driving cars. Here’s how Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, and Sundar Pichai hope to capture the $290 billion market.

Hundreds of Amazon employees also tested out the device and complained of its lack of intelligence.

One manager, who had to fill out a spreadsheet every week explaining what questions he asked and how the device responded, said, “It would hardly ever give me the right answer.”

Another tester said it was a stupid product, adding that the device was “doomed” because it “didn’t work for shit.”

But eventually engineers at the company figured out how to make the “Doppler,” smarter. In 2014, Amazon released the first version of its novel Alexa device. Within five years, the company sold more than 100 million devices with Alexa built in.

Use of the Alexa devices soared during the pandemic, as people started using them more to connect, and even to find out what day of the week it was. Now, it has helped people find where to get a COVID-19 vaccine and schedule an appointment. Amazon didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on this story.

In his last shareholder letter, Bezos said that when he started the company in 1997, “we hadn’t invented Prime, Marketplace, Alexa, or AWS. They weren’t even ideas then, and none was preordained. We took great risk with each one and put sweat and ingenuity into each one.”

Read the original article on Business Insider