15 Apr 2019

Amazon’s Alexa Is Not Just An AI — Humans Are Listening To You Too

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Artificial intelligence is on the verge of the digital world. Tech moguls are profoundly investing in AI technology in recent years. One of the most notable developments in AI is the Speech recognition learning technology which is mounting with a booming pace. One of the leading products in this category is Amazon Alexa. It was first launched on the Amazon Echo in November 2014 when it received an eye-opening response by the users. Alexa was initially only available to invited Amazon Prime members. This speech recognition system was believed to be dependent on the data the company use to feed it artificially. “The more data we use to train these systems, the better Alexa works, and training Alexa with voice recordings from a diverse range of customers helps ensure Alexa works well for everyone,” reads the company’s Alexa FAQ.

 

 

 

However, what the company didn’t mention was on how the learning of Alexa will be improved by the human involvement apart from its AI efficiency. An in-depth investigation by Bloomberg reveals that one of the kernel ways to improve the understanding capabilities of Alexa is by having human beings listen to recordings of your voice requests. Amazon has already been intruding by having cameras and microphones in millions of homes around the globe. All the privacy information is ignored in the product and service terms which the users barely care to read.

 

 

In a statement given by the Amazon told Bloomberg, “We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order [sic] 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.” The company also claims it has “strict technical and operational safeguards, and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system.” “Employees are not given access to the identity of the person engaging in the Alexa voice request, and any information of that variety is “treated with high confidentiality,” and protected by “multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption, and audits of our control environment.”

Whether this uncomfortable report triggers some users, many are simply using the system unaffectedly.
 

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