Do you own an Echo device from Amazon? If so, it’s time to throw it away asap! Kidding, Alexa is pretty great, she is pretty much my savior when it comes to doing anything my phone can do. But if you have ever wondered if someone is listening to you talk to Alexa throughout the day, sorry to say this, but the answer is yes. Turns out Bloomberg found a report from Amazon.com Inc. stating that thousands of employees around the world are listening in on our conversations to help improve the Alexa digital assistant, powering its line of echo speakers.
Yes, according to Amazon, the team listens to voice recordings captured in Amazon Echo owners’ homes and offices. The recordings are transcribed then annotated and then put back into the software as part of an effort to eliminate gaps in Alexa’s understanding of human speech. Basically, Amazon employees are training the voice assistant to respond to human commands better.
Now it’s no secret that Amazon doesn’t really tell you that they have been listening to you because well, that would be pretty scary and no one would buy any product. Instead, marketing materials simply say that Alexa “lives in the cloud and it’s always getting smarter.” The closest the company’s literature comes to actually admitting that there are employees who scan and save all information gathered on these Alexa devices is in their ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section saying, “we use your request to Alexa to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding system.”
I don’t know Amazon, that is kind of freaky and honestly, I would have never caught on if I hadn’t actually read that part over and over again. I guess that is one way to train Alexa to understand all our lingo, just don’t complain when they take over in the near future and use those words against us.
According to Bloomberg, these Amazon workers are located outside of the United States and are absolutely sworn to secrecy on the project. The employees are required to search for keywords that Alexa is not supposed to pick up, which they then share what they found on an internal chatroom.
What’s the worst part about this? Well, say you get scared and decide to turn off all voice recordings. You’re safe, right? WRONG. Even if you disable the use of voice recordings, Amazon employees may still listen by turning on that “secret switch” and analyze recordings and get your personal information. Which basically means that no one is safe!
Yikes! So now what do we use to see how the weather is in the morning? Asking for a friend.