Is Amazon Listening to Your Conversation with Alexa?

02:50 04/15/2019

This may be something scary to learn, but Amazon AMZN  workers are reportedly listening to conversations that people have with Alexa.

Bloomberg has reported that thousands of workers at Amazon around the globe are reviewing conversations with the company's Alexa. According to the report, the workers are listening in on these conversations is in order to improve Alexa's speech recognition technology.

Bloomberg reports that Amazon workers transcribe the recordings and shares the conversations with other parts of the company in order to make Alexa’s “understanding of human speech” better.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We take the security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously. We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order improve the customer experience. For example, this information helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone. We have strict technical and operational safeguards, and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system. Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow. All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption, and audits of our control environment to protect it.”

“You don’t necessarily think of another human listening to what you’re telling your smart speaker in the intimacy of your home,” said Florian Schaub, a professor at the University of Michigan.“I think we’ve been conditioned to the [assumption] that these machines are just doing magic machine learning. But the fact is there is still manual processing involved.”

“Whether that’s a privacy concern or not depends on how cautious Amazon and other companies are in what type of information they have manually annotated, and how they present that information to someone,” he continued.

In other news, a Billboard report has also revealed that Amazon is looking to launch a similar service to Pandora and Spotify, that would be available only if you ask Alexa.

Using Alexa, the songs would be accessed through Amazon's Echo connected speakers. Echo owners who pay $119 annually for Amazon's Prime are able to receive around 2 million songs for free. Amazon Music Unlimited, is available for $9.99 monthly, or $7.99 monthly for Prime members as well.



This article has been provided by a Chasing Markets contributor. All content submitted by this author represent their personal opinions, and should be considered as such for entertainment purpose only. All opinions expressed are those of the writer, and may not necessarily represent fact, opinions, or bias of Chasing Markets.
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