Amazon Alexa, known as Alexa is in talks these days, as it is reported that Amazon employees working to improve their voice assistant are listening to what people tell to Alexa. The device is a virtual assistant developed by Amazon and used for the first time in the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers.
It is capable of voice interaction, playing music, listing tasks to be done, setting alarms, broadcasting podcasts, reading audio books and providing information on weather, traffic, sports and other real-time information such as news.
This Amazon product is much talked about because of the fact that it is very sold (more than 100 million sales) and also because it has more than 1000 employees who work on it every day in order to perfect it.
Just recently, it has been revealed that the Amazon employees listen the voice recordings coming from homes and offices of the owners of Echo, when it is activated. These employees can listen to up to 1000 recordings a day.
In general, when you issue an order to an Amazon Echo device, only Amazon’s voice recognition software listens. But, it has been discovered that a copy of the audio is sent to a human at one of Amazon’s offices around the world.
The person listens to the audio recording, transcribes it and adds remarks to help Amazon’s algorithms improve. Records include both explicit Alexa commands and background conversations.
Two of the employees said they heard what they thought was a case of sexual assault, but were told that it was not up to Amazon to take action. It should also be noted that these workers also have an internal discussion forum where they can get help to analyze a confusing word, but also share some recordings they find fun.
To respond on the matter, a spokesperson of the company said that these employees only explain a very small sample of Alexa voice recordings to develop the customer experience. He also indicated that these employees do not have direct right to use to information identifying the person or account. According to him, all the information is treated with high secrecy.
“We take the security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously. We only annotate an extremely small number of interactions from a random set of customers in order to improve the experience of our customers. For example, this information helps us train our voice recognition and natural language understanding systems so that Alexa can better understand your requests, or ensure that the service works best for everyone,” company said in a statement.
Also “We implement strict technical and operational safeguards and have a zero tolerance policy against abuse on our system. In this context, employees do not have direct access to information that would allow them to identify a person or an account. We treat all information with the utmost confidentiality, use multifactor authentication to restrict access, service encryption, and audits of our control environment to protect it, and customers can also remove their voice interactions with Alexa at any time.”