Amazon MAY Share Your Alexa Conversations with Devs

Discussion in '[H]ard|OCP Front Page News' started by Kyle_Bennett, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. Kyle_Bennett

    Kyle_Bennett El Chingón Staff Member

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    I have some very strong feelings about having these types of devices in my home, for this very reason (Warning: Autoroll video). I am far from being that "tinfoil hat" sort of guy, or at least I think I am. While it is bad enough having an always on smartphone, having devices sitting around the house that are supposed to listen to me are creepy as hell. And knowing that Amazon is sharing identity-sanitized information does not make me feel better about it.


    Watch what you say to your Amazon Echo. Amazon may give developers transcripts of your conversations with your Amazon Alexa personal assistant so they can build smarter, more responsive software, according to a new report.
     
  2. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    It should be assumed that these devices are sending conversation data back to the mothership and that the sanitation can be reversed. It's how they're able to make improvements to their language / comprehension engine.

    I bought a new smart thermostat. I had two choices in the brand I wanted. Last year's model that was cheaper (clearance) and lacked a microphone. Or this year's model that had Alexa built in with all of her goodness. I chose last year's model, why would I pay more for a recording device?Although we don't know it officially, it could be one of the smartest espionage moves in centuries .. getting people to pay for their own listening devices and cameras. That's brilliant.
     
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  3. scojer

    scojer 2[H]4U

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    I don't want one of these things, and I won't get one. If I'm forced to get one somehow, (in a thermostat or something), it'll get dismantled and the mic will be removed or disabled, or, simply not connected to the internet.

    do-you-want-to-live-in1984-because-thatshow-youlvein-1984-8212290.png
     
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  4. DrLobotomy

    DrLobotomy [H]ardness Supreme

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    MAY???!!! I was under the assumption that ALL conversations were fully shared internally by Amazon, Google, Microsoft etc...
     
  5. Blown 89

    Blown 89 2[H]4U

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    As long as it keeps being amazingly helpful I don't care what they share.

    These doom and gloom people that worry about the government listening in on their conversations and are somehow going to screw them with that data need to get over themselves. Nothing you are doing is of any importance to anyone. It must be their way of making up for their desire to be more important than they really are.
     
  6. Zinn

    Zinn Pronouns: ze, zis, zit

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    Yea, as a developer, I see where they're coming from. They want to be able to do machine learning around actual conversational use of their product, and they couldn't possibly run through all real-world cases in a test environment.

    But as a human being who values his privacy, I am totally "not down" with this kind of B.S. -- I've lived for over three decades without having always-on spy devices piping data to Jeff Bezos, and as much as I like cool gadgets, the value proposition of a product like Alexa does not outweigh my concerns about data security.

    One thing I've learned from all the leaks and doxxing of high-profile individuals over the last few years - if you don't want something to become publicly known about you, don't put it on the Internet. Unfortunately, it's not possible to follow that mantra with products like Alexa, so it's pretty much a hard pass for me.
     
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  7. Patton187

    Patton187 Limp Gawd

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    Not now, not ever.
     
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  8. CaptNumbNutz

    CaptNumbNutz My Cannon Balls Sunk My Fail Ship

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    "Amazon may give developers transcripts of your conversations with your Amazon Alexa personal assistant."

    It only shares conversations you have with the device itself. The device is always on, but it's not always recording or sending to home base. The device is always listening for the trigger word "Alexa". It does nothing until that word is said. That name was chosen for a very specific reason as it is incredibly unlikely it would be misheard as other words in the English language. This is absolutely essential to the programming and function of the device. The software doesn't even call out to the other functionality (e.g. recording, playback, AWS, etc. etc.) until it hears "uh-LEX-uh".

    "Alexa... what is the temperature outside?" -sent to Amazon
    "Alexa... what is the traffic like?" -sent to Amazon
    "Alexa... how much does a brick of coke and 2 hookers cost?" -sent to Amazon

    You really have to work at it to get it to send info you do not intend for it to send. Simply put, don't be a dumbass and ask it questions you don't want recorded.

    Why is everyone assuming this thing is actually recording everything they say and do? About the only people who have to worry are those who have actual people (friends, families, visitors) whose name is Alexa. Being as that isn't an incredibly popular name, not many people have much to worry about.
     
  9. MikeTrike

    MikeTrike [H]ardness Supreme

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  10. vr.

    vr. 2[H]4U

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    I'd say we're already being 100% eavesdropped upon by devices even without having the Amazon urinal puck. I can't count how many times of having a conversation about something only to go online a short bit later and have ads related to those topics start showing up in the sidebar. This is with no searching of said product whatsoever.
     
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  11. ZodaEX

    ZodaEX 2[H]4U

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    You are being super paranoid. You are seeing targeted ads because you've got cookies enabled in your web browser. This has nothing to do with easedropping, but solely user-error.
     
  12. Blakestr

    Blakestr [H]ard|Gawd

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    I thought you could specify an activation word, in any case? There's probably some word that linguistically never comes up, even partially, in normal conversation.

    I'm pretty sure there have already been plenty of hackers and techies monitoring their data traffic through these things; if they were recording without being activated, there would have been a big story.

    Also, don't we carry our wiretaps with us wherever we go, in any case? This Alexa thing is just confirming to the NSA that we, yes, we continue to be idiots when we are at home as well.
     
  13. nilepez

    nilepez [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I'm torn. I have little doubt that this is necessary for improving the product, and if I was convinced that it was truly anonymized,I probably wouldn't care, but I'm not. For now, I'll hold off.
     
  14. vr.

    vr. 2[H]4U

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    Sorry, your assessment is mistaken.
     
  15. HeadRusch

    HeadRusch Gawd

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    I'm more interested in the ultrasonics that are being discussed lately. You mean like Ultrasonics that can cause all of us to be agitated all of the time if we're constantly hearing ultra-frequency soundwaves? :D

    If devices can communicate via IR and Ultrasonic sound, then there is nothing you or I can do to be aware (short of using other machines) to tell us about it.....spoken conversations? Hell our Cell Phones have probably been doing that for a decade or more now.


    Having said that, I want one of the video ones in my kitchen for things as simple as "Alexa, add butter to my grocery list".......that simple ask is almost enough reason for me to want one. ONE...in the kitchen, and only in the kitchen. But that's how it starts, I suppose. I'm sure I'm like most other thinking people...."want but....an always-on mic?"....
     
  16. Dead Parrot

    Dead Parrot [H]ard|Gawd

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    Government officials have already used data and recordings from similar devices in criminal investigations. Won't be long before civil case discovery will include such records. Plus, it isn't just this device. A lot of devices come with monitoring/recording abilities. All with their own data sharing TOS/EULA, all subject to change with little notice to the end user. If you use one of these, expect that everything you say and do will be recorded and stored off site, accessible to others without your knowledge or consent.
     
  17. CaptNumbNutz

    CaptNumbNutz My Cannon Balls Sunk My Fail Ship

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    Yes, there is. The word "Alexa". Amazon did plenty of research on this already. If it could trigger on even a dozen words or names that sound similar, the device wouldn't work very well.

    That was my point. People are ridiculously paranoid. If anyone is using these devices to continuously monitor someone else, its hackers and criminals. That being said that would require a lot of effort for little payoff unless it was a celebrity or politician.


    Prove it. Occam's razor means there are dozens of simpler explanations.

    You're sounding about as paranoid as this guy. :p

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  18. Nukester

    Nukester Gawd

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    The smart people have been preaching this about this device from day one. The naysayers have been in denial. Well, there you go, we were right of course. Amazon and google can kiss my fat ass.
     
  19. Ryleh

    Ryleh Limp Gawd

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  20. vr.

    vr. 2[H]4U

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    Welcome to the group of paranoids.

    I'm sure they won't consider the proof as true, though.
     
  21. {NG}Fidel

    {NG}Fidel [H]ardness Supreme

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    I worked at AWS and I would not put too much info into their services. They are ripe for an issue with the way they manage and push people. I foresee issues with that company in a couple years.
     
  22. Advil

    Advil [H]ard|Gawd

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    Back in the 80s and 90s we envisioned digital assistants. Star Trek TNG made us dream of computers we could talk to. But all those dreams were centered around a LOCAL computer analyzing what we ask for, then going out and finding information with the tools it has available. A digital assistant that you can talk to, and can respond back in a near conversational way could be done in a private manner. On a private VPN. Where every last shred of personal info stored in it is kept local with no outside company warehousing it on some server out of your control.

    But you notice that no company is interested in making that software and selling it. It would be the next greatest thing after the invention of Microsoft Office.

    But no. Cortana can't do hardly ANYTHING locally. You can't set it in a privacy mode where it functions only as a local personal assistant. No. That wouldn't be beneficial to Microsoft.

    Just like Siri doesn't do jack locally.

    Just like Alexa doesn't do jack locally.

    The market is ripe for someone to actually sell a powerful stand alone conversational assistant.
     
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  23. grtitan

    grtitan [H]ard|Gawd

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    Obligatory...??

     
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  24. hity645

    hity645 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Maybe now it'll talk dirty to me.
     
  25. kju1

    kju1 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Sanitized my ass.
     
  26. jpm100

    jpm100 [H]ardness Supreme

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    The convo's are only recorded after using the 'wake word', which anyone with a network tap could have debunked by now if it wasn't true, unlike your phone which is an open mic 24/7. Anyone bitching who doesn't pull the battery out of their cell phones at home is completely overlooking a worse intruder that is with you 24/7 and doesn't need a wake word.
     
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  27. steakman1971

    steakman1971 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I'm in the software development field so understand how useful it would be to get real-world usage data from people. Without it, devs are basically having to guess how people are using the software. Accessing real data - now yolu can make a better product that anticipates how people are trying to use it. (Especially Echo - they are basically using regex in some of the skills).
    I know of the data risks but also like having devices like the Echo in my house. I'm ok to share information for a better product. We have to be smart on what is used by the devices - financial, security related data, etc are riskier than turning on/off my lights of course.
    I've also seen sanitized data from medical organizations - this data is very anonymous and I think someone would have a difficult time figuring out who it belonged to. Of course, HIPAA laws do give these orgs a reason to make sure its anonymous - massive penalties if it's not. I don't think there are similar penalties for "generic" data.
     
  28. wizzi01

    wizzi01 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Unless you live with someone named Alexa lol.
     
  29. lollerwaffle

    lollerwaffle Limp Gawd

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    I have a love for gadgets but it most certainly stops there. For now it's Alexa this Alexa that. But we're already at a place where car insurers give discounts for devices that monitor your driving completely. At some point they'll jack up the price for non-users of those devices so high that you need to get one. Who would've thought we'd get there? And now it's creeping into your house. Good luck, at some point those things will detect when you're drunk and let your health insurers know.
     
  30. That_Sound_Guy

    That_Sound_Guy 2[H]4U

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    Talking to robot phone menus makes me mad. I am certainly not going to talk to computers in my own home. Smart tech is breeding isolation and laziness. No thanks.
     
  31. PaulP

    PaulP Limp Gawd

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    You nailed it. When I can get something local, that doesn't depend on computers owned and maintained by someone else to work, then I'll be interested. I don't want an open mic connected to the internet in my home or car. And to all you kids out there that can't see how this could possibly go wrong - just wait.
     
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  32. nilepez

    nilepez [H]ardForum Junkie

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    So you want a small portable device with terabytes of information stored locally in a database? That doesn't make much sense to me. There's no doubt that some stuff could be done locally, but a lot of it cannot. I don't use Siri much but most questions that are asked are for things that aren't on a typical person's phone. And Apple doesn't keep much of anything that you ask it (it's apparently a problem for them, because they're faling behind Google and Amazon).
     
  33. lollerwaffle

    lollerwaffle Limp Gawd

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    I agree, the reality is that you don't want a static set of data IF YOU WANT this device to begin with. The very nature of it is to be up to date, and offline won't do it for a number of reasons, chief among them data volume and processing power.
     
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  34. _l_

    _l_ Limp Gawd

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    what a world we live in these days where you can chose between talking to your Alexa or your wide screen TV
     
  35. SmokeRngs

    SmokeRngs [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2008

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    You've hit the nail on the head about why I don't use anything like this or even any type of voice activated appliance. I'd actually like to use something like you describe and I've been waiting a long time for something like that to come around but there's nothing out there. There also doesn't seem to be any product like this on the horizon.

    Some people here are stating that many things would require and internet search. So? I have no problem with using a voice command for a search as long as I know that command isn't being recorded and saved. And before you ask, I don't use google for searches. I would also not have a big problem with having a device listen as long as I knew it wasn't recording everything heard. Also, I would know that the device or software isn't phoning home at all. Basically, I'd be happy only as long as I know the device/software is under my full control. I want a true personal digital assistant; I don't want an extension of google/Amazon/Apple/etc. masquerading as an assistant.
     
  36. Blakestr

    Blakestr [H]ard|Gawd

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    Ever heard of Tasker for Android? I used to fool around with it and there is loads of functionality, especially for voice. (A bunch of Autoplugins). Best thing is, it's all local and you control it completely. Con is, you pretty much have to program every function. It does let you parse multiple words but it is a bit of a hack to do speech recognition that way. Great for simple stuff though. There are videos of people doing full home automation with it.