Hey, You Are Listened

With the development of the technology, specifically, the Artificial Intelligence, many problems have been solved. Technology does make life easier. But one solution can’t solve all problems. Let’s talk about some counterproductive problems that AI has brought to us. One of them is the privacy.

Recently, an article named “Amazon reportedly employs thousands of people to listen to your Alexa conversations” came out. I still remembered we talked about Alexa in the previous class, and we watched videos making fun of it. We talked about how funny it was that Alexa could recognize different kinds of accent or even dialogues. But what make me shocking is that I never thought about the privacy issue when we were right in the area of privacy. What I was thinking was that how life would be convenient with technology.

Let’s explore what the article has talked about.

“Amazon reportedly employs thousands of full-time workers and contractors in several countries, including the United States, Costa Rica and Romania, to listen to as many as 1,000 audio clips in shifts that last up to nine hours. The audio clips they listen to were described as “mundane” and even sometimes “possibly criminal,” including listening to a potential sexual assault.”

Here is Amazon’s response. “In a response to the story, Amazon confirmed to CNN Business that it hires people to listen to what customers say to Alexa. But Amazon said it takes “security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously.” The company said it only annotates an “extremely small number of interactions from a random set of customers.”

Also according to the article, “Amazon previously has been embroiled in controversy for privacy concerns regarding Alexa. Last year, an Echo user said the smart speaker had recorded a conversation without them knowing and sent the audio file to an Amazon employee in Seattle. Amazon confirmed the error and said the device’s always-listening microphones misheard a series of words and mistakenly sent a voice message.”

This news is really impressive to me. Not only are your conversations listened, but also Amazon really makes an effort to listen. They even have a good reason to do that, and that is improving the product. I don’t know what to comment but to self-reflect. We, as customers, actually facilitate this phenomenon. We want/need the product to be smart enough to make our lives easier. As the company, they try their best to fulfill our demand. There is really nothing wrong here, and this is actually the most dangerous sign in my opinion. After all, at least for me, being listened is not what I want.

What do you think?

Reference:
https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/11/tech/amazon-alexa-listening/index.html

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1 Response to Hey, You Are Listened

  1. sydhavely says:

    Excellent blog post and critically important issue. I didn’t know Amazon listened to Alexa’s (and her users’) conversations and questions but it doesn’t surprise me. A lot of people go into different rooms so Alexa doesn’t hear them. Weird, isn’t it when you think they are the ones who brought Alexa into their house. BTW, I think you mean your title to read: “You’re Being Listened To” or “Amazon is Eavesdropping On What You Say to Alexa.” Well done post.

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