It was reported last week, that it is isn’t just the Alexa AI that’s listening to you when you give your Amazon Echo device a command, but in fact an Amazon employee may be listening to what you’re saying.
At first you may not be overly concerned by an employee, whose job is to better the product you love using. After all, listening in on simple commands such as asking the digital assistant to play your favourite song sounds harmless, right? But what if the device mishears it’s summon command and activates by mistake or what if a confidential discussion is going on in the background that it may pick up on?
When the AI records your command, it records more than just your voice, it records everything. Allegedly, several employees when interviewed have stated that there have been occasions where they hear critical data in the background, sometimes as much as bank details.
Amazon has thousands of employees globally whose job is to help enhance the AI behind the Echo line of devices, named Alexa. Some of these employees listen to hundreds of audio clips a day, transcribing whatever command has been given to Alexa, annotating it and inputting it back into the AI system to help close holes in Alexa’s understanding of the human language. Some employees are assigned the role of making sure Alexa correctly answered the users query, commenting on the dialogue between the human and the digital assistant.
Reportedly, the people working on these projects to better the digital assistant, can be a mixture of Amazon employees and contractors, but they are all bound by non-disclosure agreements to stop them speaking publicly about the projects.
According to Amazon, they only annotate an extremely small sample of voice recordings from Alexa enabled devices and they take the security and privacy of their customers personal information seriously. They also state that they have strict technical and operational safeguards in place to help protect personal data and have a zero-tolerance policy for the abuse of our system.
Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on when it comes to the Digital Assistant Revolution, did you know that commands you give in the confines of your own home are being listened to by someone sat in an office somewhere?