[TechSpot] Thousands of Amazon workers are listening to your Alexa conversations - Overclock.net - An Overclocking Community

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[TechSpot] Thousands of Amazon workers are listening to your Alexa conversations

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post #1 of 108 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
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[TechSpot] Thousands of Amazon workers are listening to your Alexa conversations

Quote:
Bloomberg writes that Amazon employs thousands of contractors and full-time workers around the world, “from Boston to Costa Rica, India and Romania,” to listen to voice recordings captured by Echo devices. These are transcribed and annotated with the aim of improving the performance of digital assistant Alexa, helping the AI better understand human speech.

Bloomberg spoke to seven people that worked on the program, who revealed they reviewed as many as 1,000 clips per shift.
Quote:
We’ve long known that smart devices can be triggered accidentally. According to the auditors, they transcribed as many as 100 recordings per day where no wake command was given.
Quote:
Amazon does state in its privacy policy that it may use Alexa requests to train the AI, though there’s no mention of this process being carried out by humans. And it’s not just Amazon that does this, Apple and Google also use workers in the same way for improving Siri and Google Assistant. All companies say the clips lack personally identifiable information.
Source.


Bold for emphasis. Unless they distort the voices just like news pieces do with witnesses in sensitive matters - which I would argue would completely defeat the purpose here, and also somehow remove the accidental recordings' personal details beforehand, then this is basically a self-evident lie. Also, there are billions of hours of speech available on a multitude of freely accessible on-line video and audio platforms, so why does any company need to do this? And for how long will the justification be "feeding AI"?



Last edited by tpi2007; 04-11-2019 at 12:41 PM.
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post #2 of 108 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 12:41 PM
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I'm not putting down the article or anything but I thought this was common knowledge.
It's not like the AI trains it's self, someone needs to interpret what's said and how the device responded to improve functionality. How else would it work?
Personally I don't need a box to order stuff and check the weather for me, I feel like by owning one of these things you accept that anything said in it's vecinity might be listened to...in some cases probably used against you.

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post #3 of 108 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 01:22 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by tpi2007 View Post
Unless they distort the voices just like news pieces do with witnesses in sensitive matters - which I would argue would completely defeat the purpose here, and also somehow remove the accidental recordings' personal details beforehand, then this is basically a self-evident lie.
Oh please.

Nobody is going to ruin your life by spoofing your voiceprint. This isn't a James Bond movie.
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post #4 of 108 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 01:35 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by white owl View Post
I'm not putting down the article or anything but I thought this was common knowledge.
It's not like the AI trains it's self, someone needs to interpret what's said and how the device responded to improve functionality. How else would it work?
Personally I don't need a box to order stuff and check the weather for me, I feel like by owning one of these things you accept that anything said in it's vecinity might be listened to...in some cases probably used against you.
I figured the same as well, then again I also figured all these "free" social media services we have aren't actually "free" yet most people still don't understand the business model.

I'm just waiting for the day people voluntarily have cameras in their house recording their every move. It seems farfetched but so was this a decade ago. It'll be some kind of social media convenience connected home thing, like the home security cams merged in with some IOT/social media aspect, the Facebook portal thing but improved.

By then about the only privacy you'll have left is when you're in the crapper. I think even that's going too, there's apps now for tracking your period and probably your dump cycles which are of course being data mined for something.

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post #5 of 108 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 01:54 PM
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Like you guys, I assumed this is what was being done. The voice commands are one of the most useless features added to electronics, for me at least, so I never use them.

Alexa is easy to get rid of, I just don't use the remote that came with my FireTV, but my phone is pretty useless without a mic so I have accepted the fact that Google is probably recording my life in some super compressed audio format.

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post #6 of 108 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 02:00 PM
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I use two of them in my house to control my garage door, hue lights and a few smartplugs. It's handy. I have no illusions of privacy either. My wife and I actually get a lil toasty on Saturday evenings with a couple drinks and discuss how we're going to murder people and ask Alexa how to dispose of a body.

Playing with fire??? Maybe.......but it's all good, drunken, sexy time fun!!
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post #7 of 108 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by white owl View Post
I'm not putting down the article or anything but I thought this was common knowledge.
It's not like the AI trains it's self, someone needs to interpret what's said and how the device responded to improve functionality. How else would it work?
Personally I don't need a box to order stuff and check the weather for me, I feel like by owning one of these things you accept that anything said in it's vecinity might be listened to...in some cases probably used against you.

It's common knowledge to a point, and then there's the usual omissions by these companies, so it's never enough to highlight when reports like these go into the detail of how it actually happens and where it happens.

Also, as I asked, why do these companies need to do this at all to feed their AI? Why don't they just put all these workers and contract workers transcribing all the films ever made, along with all the TV programs and news in the world and feed it all into the AI, along with all the radio programs from the past and present, heck, just tune into every radio station broadcasting in the world right now to have billions of hours of voice recordings to feed the algorithm and then, on top of all that, pour all of the billions of hours of YouTube content into it:

Quote:
As of February 2017, there were more than 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube


Bold for emphasis.

I'd say that in every case I mentioned above the expectation of privacy is non-existent as it was publicly broadcast.

How much voice content do they need to train the AI?



Quote: Originally Posted by Mand12 View Post
Oh please.

Nobody is going to ruin your life by spoofing your voiceprint. This isn't a James Bond movie.

Where do you make up stuff like that? I didn't claim any of that.



Last edited by tpi2007; 04-11-2019 at 04:12 PM.
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post #8 of 108 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 02:53 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by LancerVI View Post
I use two of them in my house to control my garage door, hue lights and a few smartplugs. It's handy. I have no illusions of privacy either. My wife and I actually get a lil toasty on Saturday evenings with a couple drinks and discuss how we're going to murder people and ask Alexa how to dispose of a body.

Playing with fire??? Maybe.......but it's all good, drunken, sexy time fun!!
I doubt it's playing with fire, most likely you are bringing a little ray of sunshine into someones day. Since it's a day filled with transcribing some of the most boring crap ever, I'd say you are doing a good deed by making someone smile.

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post #9 of 108 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 02:54 PM
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Shouldn't really come as a surprise. This man knew the game, 20 years ago.

"You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." - Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, 1999


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post #10 of 108 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 03:02 PM
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This almost makes me want to go back to my windows phone. Thing still works well enough, especially audio quality, but the apps work like the free versions of free android apps. I can't imagine MS has thousands in the windows mobile department, maybe just a handful of creeps.

Edit: My daughter was pretty surprised. This will probably be making the rounds at her gradeschool tomorrow.
And I had assumed they were using software for data mining as well, since software can already understand what you are saying. Maybe we will hear about people watching cameras next. It isn't much of a jump from microphones.

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Last edited by rluker5; 04-11-2019 at 03:09 PM.
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