Shocking: Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa

dgz

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Feb 15, 2010
Messages
5,838
In a news that shouldn't surprise anyone, Amazon has admitted that employees review "small sample" of Alexa audio.

Tens of millions of people use smart speakers and their voice software to play games, find music or trawl for trivia. Millions more are reluctant to invite the devices and their powerful microphones into their homes out of concern that someone might be listening.

Sometimes, someone is.

Amazon.com Inc. employs thousands of people around the world to help improve the Alexa digital assistant powering its line of Echo speakers. The team listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices. The recordings are transcribed, annotated and then fed back into the software as part of an effort to eliminate gaps in Alexa’s understanding of human speech and help it better respond to commands.
Of course, Amzn is not alone in this
Apple’s Siri also has human helpers, who work to gauge whether the digital assistant’s interpretation of requests lines up with what the person said. The recordings they review lack personally identifiable information and are stored for six months tied to a random identifier, according to an Apple security white paper. After that, the data is stripped of its random identification information but may be stored for longer periods to improve Siri’s voice recognition.

At Google, some reviewers can access some audio snippets from its Assistant to help train and improve the product, but it’s not associated with any personally identifiable information and the audio is distorted, the company says.
And that's just the big guys. So, go ahead and buy MORE Telescreens* for you house.

The contents of Bloomberg's article shouldn't surprise anyone, nor should anyone panic. At least someone is listening to what some of us have to say. So what if it's an corporation free of any morals.

* May not be called that way in your region.
 

termite

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Aug 27, 2004
Messages
5,321
Haha.

Of course they do. Does anyone really think that there is even a microscopic chance having an always on listening device in your home offers any privacy?

Why they do it makes perfect sense though, and is probably the best way to improve the service.

I'd like to think that even the most enthusiastic smart speaker user already know and expects this.
 

Ocellaris

Ginger @le, an alcoholic's best friend.
Joined
Jan 1, 2008
Messages
18,881
No shit they listen to it, they need to figure out some of the completely fucked responses it gives to simple requests.
 

sirmonkey1985

[H]ard|DCer of the Month - July 2010
Joined
Sep 13, 2008
Messages
22,137
Haha.

Of course they do. Does anyone really think that there is even a microscopic chance having an always on listening device in your home offers any privacy?

Why they do it makes perfect sense though, and is probably the best way to improve the service.

I'd like to think that even the most enthusiastic smart speaker user already know and expects this.
yup not surprised, as long as direct names/user information isn't available to the same people listen then it's what ever, just a people listening to other people talk.. no different then the dumb asses on their cell phones on public transit. that being said i hope they enjoy listening to all the random ass shit we put into my friends amazon cart when we're at his house drinking. :p

No shit they listen to it, they need to figure out some of the completely fucked responses it gives to simple requests.
yeah some of the responses it gives are mind boggling. speech recognition as a whole still has a long ways to go that's for sure.
 

M76

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
11,187
"the audio is distorted"

Bullshit, how do you train a software based on voice recognition with distorted audio.
 

MaZa

2[H]4U
Joined
Sep 21, 2008
Messages
2,994
And this is why I disable voice commands in every device that has them, if possible. Not only do I not nees them, they are a clear privacy risk. I do not give two shits if they are stored in "personally unidentifiable" form, if it has my voice clear as day then it is recognisable enough and therefore identifiable to someone somewhere.
 

Jagger100

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 31, 2004
Messages
7,613
You can tag things that were misheard. Anything to suggest this is outside of those items? Or is the more FUD from people who are afraid of the listening device that talks back over the ones that sit quietly so you forget they are there and are listening 24/7, tracking your location, and squealing on your browsing habbits.
 

NickJames

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Apr 28, 2009
Messages
6,675
Hope you all feel like a frog that is being slowly boiled.
Their goal is to make the surveillance state is "Meh, no big deal" to most people while the thought police make sure you repeat the party line.
K? Is the FBI going to come in and arrest my illegal pizza gathering ring? I'm all about privacy but some people go a bit overboard thinking they live the life of Vladimir Putin.
 

Ur_Mom

Fully [H]
Joined
May 15, 2006
Messages
20,266
I'm not surprised. It's a voice assistant. Every product has QA and tries to improve. How can you improve this? By using the data collected and make it better at what it does. One issue is that it mis-hears people, and the fix for that is to find what was said, what was heard and how it was interpreted. I do wonder what people think happened when it came to QA and improving this stuff? This is pretty much how I expected it was happening. If you're good enough with having a device in your home that listens 24/7 and has a connection back to these massive companies, you probably understand that your data is out there. The big thing is how much do you trust the company that supports it. Are they really sanitizing and keeping it anonymous? No PII included?

These are devices for convenience. Nothing more. You trade in privacy for convenience. Some are ok with that, others aren't. However, there is a line that is different for everyone that can be crossed by these companies. How much are privacy are you willing to give up? It has nothing to do with "if you have nothing to hide...", because with some of the laws coming out across the country soon you will have something to hide (simple laws creating criminals). FBI trying to force Apple to unlock a phone, another agency gathering information from Amazon, Google giving up their data, going after VPN's, etc.. At some point, Alexa and other voice assistant data will be available for others. They'll have a unique profile for each user with voice samples.

I'm no Putin, nor do I have a pizza smuggling ring (sounds fun, though!), but this could go badly in the future. As of now, I'm fine. If I want to talk about anything private, I have places that are microphone free. I've read a lot of those paranoid sci-fi books and stories when I was younger, and I have a negative opinion on some things. But, I'll use them until my level of trust is lower. Privacy vs. convenience. Most things that I say in front of Alexa, I would be fine saying in a public space. I'm not dependent on Alexa but I use the services pretty often. I'd guess that my browsing habits, search history, online profile is much deeper when it comes to information gathering than Alexa, anyway. All the posts on these forums have a ton more information about me than Alexa does. The internet has a lot of my opinions, some against the hive mind of various sites. It's not difficult to create a profile on me that is much better than Amazon has.

I am not a Luddite, and Alexa is probably the least of my worries when it comes to privacy.
 

Grimlaking

2[H]4U
Joined
May 9, 2006
Messages
3,250
You know we didn't have Alexa devices in my home until a couple weeks ago. I bought two of the Alexa things.. (the tall ones but not the enhanced audio ones.) One for my office and one for our bedroom where my wife normally is.

Now instead of her yelling up the stairs or you know stopping her damn phone game to talk to me. She can just have Alexa drop in to my office and we can talk.

It's gone a long way to making things more peaceful.

And THAT is worth my privacy a bit. Sadly?
 

Nenu

[H]ardened
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
19,330
You know we didn't have Alexa devices in my home until a couple weeks ago. I bought two of the Alexa things.. (the tall ones but not the enhanced audio ones.) One for my office and one for our bedroom where my wife normally is.

Now instead of her yelling up the stairs or you know stopping her damn phone game to talk to me. She can just have Alexa drop in to my office and we can talk.

It's gone a long way to making things more peaceful.

And THAT is worth my privacy a bit. Sadly?
A walkie talkie or intercom would suffice without needing a network, data grabbing, privacy invasion ...
They are not new tech!
 

Darunion

2[H]4U
Joined
Oct 6, 2010
Messages
4,027
A walkie talkie or intercom would suffice without needing a network, data grabbing, privacy invasion ...
They are not new tech!
Walkie talkies are not secure.

We haven't had privacy in a long time, didn't you ever pick up someones cordless phone on a baby monitor before? Only got one half of the conversation but still was fun to listen in on the neighbors as kids.
 

Nenu

[H]ardened
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
19,330
Walkie talkies are not secure.

We haven't had privacy in a long time, didn't you ever pick up someones cordless phone on a baby monitor before? Only got one half of the conversation but still was fun to listen in on the neighbors as kids.
A wired intercom is not susceptible.
Secure 2way radios arent expensive either.
 
Last edited:

snowcrash

Gawd
Joined
Apr 30, 2011
Messages
712
Good thing it doesn’t bother me at all. I’ll happily continue to buy and use tech gadgets that catches my fancy. Takes a lot more to trigger my paranoia.

I’ll file this under the “Duh...of course they are listening. It’s how a company can improve its voice product lines. Or no s—- Sherlock.”
 

Dr. Righteous

2[H]4U
Joined
Aug 1, 2007
Messages
3,163
K? Is the FBI going to come in and arrest my illegal pizza gathering ring? I'm all about privacy but some people go a bit overboard thinking they live the life of Vladimir Putin.
Right, and everyone in government denied that the NSA was building a huge data center in the mid west to log all phone conversations. Tinfoil hat stuff right? Until it turned out to be true. Now things like Alexia, Suri, etc are becoming all to common place; home appliances, like a toaster. Meh, no big deal.
But how easily could comments you make in private become public or get to the ears of someone you don't want to hear them; like your employer.
 

doz

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jun 16, 2009
Messages
5,166
Right, and everyone in government denied that the NSA was building a huge data center in the mid west to log all phone conversations. Tinfoil hat stuff right? Until it turned out to be true. Now things like Alexia, Suri, etc are becoming all to common place; home appliances, like a toaster. Meh, no big deal.
But how easily could comments you make in private become public or get to the ears of someone you don't want to hear them; like your employer.
That is what's scary. People of all race, sex, rich, poor, haves and have nots are getting busted for what they say these days. It is getting to the point where you cannot say anything or have an opinion on anything in private or else your job, career, scholarship, endorsements, ect. may be lost. Just wait till it is more common practice to hack Alexa and the like and people cannot even hold private conversations for fear of being blackmailed for the information.

Look at the politicians who have stepped down over something "racist" they said when they were young. And technology was hardly what it is today 20 years ago.......

Not only that, on the FBI/NSA/Government side of it, what about privacy? Are we not allowed to have privacy? Some argue if you are doing something illegal you should be in trouble. Imagine the users on this forum talking privately about whatever it may be and the Feds listen in and find out about the illegal activity. Next thing you know, they are pulling evidence out of their ass to obtain a search warrant and you are busted...... And for what? That bump stock you said got dumped in the lake? Something so simple can ruin peoples lives.
 

BB Gun

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jan 14, 2004
Messages
1,536
Meh, we are already carrying around listening devices on us every day. Unless you don't use a smartphone, this horse left the barn a long time ago.

I've lost count, now, of the number of times I've been talking about something for which I have not done any kind of search or textual reference from a keyboard that BAM, shows up in ads in my web browser on the phone and/or PC.
 

Darunion

2[H]4U
Joined
Oct 6, 2010
Messages
4,027
Meh, we are already carrying around listening devices on us every day. Unless you don't use a smartphone, this horse left the barn a long time ago.

I've lost count, now, of the number of times I've been talking about something for which I have not done any kind of search or textual reference from a keyboard that BAM, shows up in ads in my web browser on the phone and/or PC.
The other day we just had that at our house. Wife was googling something at her pc at work. And MY facebook ads included that item. We do not share accounts or emails.
 
Top