Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has many helpful skills but making predictions about future wars is not one of them. Nonetheless, a video went viral in February 2023, claiming to show an Alexa predicting the start of World War III.
In the video, someone offscreen asks, "Alexa, when will World War III start?" In response the gadget supposedly says, "World War III starts on November 23, 2023, at 6:05 p.m., when Russia launches an attack against Germany."
This was not an actual prediction from the device; Alexa does not respond to such questions with that type of specificity. The video, which originates from TikTok, seemingly originated from an account known for posting fake Alexa responses to questions.
The above video credits TikTok user @iamnoahbrendan. That account posted the clip in November 2021 and named another account, @jonbuckhouse, as the producer of the video's audio, or "original sound."
The video was available on @iamnoahbrendan's account, as of this writing. However, when we went to @jonbuckhouse's account, the clip of Alexa supposedly making the prediction about WWIII was no longer there. We reached out to both accounts to learn more and will update this story if we hear back.
Citing metadata, Newsweek concluded that @jonbuckhouse appeared to be the footage's original source. That TikTok account has inspired fact-checking from Snopes in the past, particularly with its video of Alexa supposedly predicting that Miami will be "completely destroyed" by a hurricane in 2025. Similarly, in this video from 2020, Alexa supposedly stated, "Today, President Donald Trump declared war on the rest of the world." That was clearly not an accurate statement:
A March 2021 YouTube compilation of videos by @jonbuckhouse asking Alexa to predict events features the same question and answer about WWIII, at the 8:13 mark.
Newsweek also reached out to an Amazon representative, who said of the alleged war prediction, "This is not Alexa's response and we have not been able to replicate this video."
The spokesperson added that Alexa's response to the question would be, "There hasn't been a World War III and it's impossible to predict if such a war will happen in the future. World War I occurred from 1914-1918 and World War II occurred from 1939-1945."
We asked Alexa the question, and she responded exactly as the spokesperson said she would.
It is impossible to predict with accuracy the onset of a global conflict; only can humankind and its technology anticipate the possibilities of a world war based on tensions between nations. The video with the alleged WWIII prediction circulated just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a speech linking the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II — an unsuccessful attempt from Nazi Germany to capture Stalingrad — to the war in Ukraine. The possibility of a World War III has been suggested by world leaders and analysts when discussing the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
In our past coverage of the TikTok account that posts fake Alexa responses, we noted, "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."
We also noted that people can use "Alexa Blueprints," a tool introduced in 2018, to generate customizable answers to specific prompts. We thus know that Alexa could be programmed to respond to a certain question — for example, "When will World War III start?" — with a user-created answer. Amazon guidelines give instructions for how to do this, with examples of the kinds of questions and answers people can create:
"Alexa, who is the best mom?"
Alexa: I just compared all moms in history, and my conclusion is that yours is the best.
"Alexa, which is the best city in the world?"
Alexa: I'm pretty fond of my hometown, Seattle Washington.
These answers would only be used by the individual Alexa device programmed to say such things, and would not apply to all Alexa voice assistants.
We wrote previously, "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."
This remains the case. We thus rate this claim as "False."