All those FBI memes over the years might get much more serious from now! Amazon hired thousands of people to listen to the voice samples by Alexa. The employees hired so, signed a non-disclosure agreement as of which the employee can’t share about this project publicly or socially.
Alexa is the smart speaker released by Amazon in 2014. Since then, almost all major companies released their own smart speakers with over 7 million consumers all around the world.
Amazon’s Echo is just about the same. Recently a couple of such ‘Secret workers’ associated with this project posted that they listen to more than 1000 samples a day. Almost 100 of them being recorded when Alexa is accidentally triggered by some background noise. They include children screaming, TV running and people singing.
Alexa is still learning
Or the better phrase would be that Alexa is still being taught by humans.
“Alexa is constantly learning and there’s a need to analyze a lot of different slangs, colloquials to further improve it.” said one of the Amazon executives when asked about this issue.
“Big data isn’t magic. Alexa might miss something due to the influence of various parameters. (For example, the word avec sa ‘with him’ or ‘with her’ in French can confuse the software into thinking someone is using the wake word.) so humans assist Alexa to fill these gaps” he added.
While some of this project reviewers note the user’s commands, comparing the recordings to Alexa’s automated transcript, say or annotating the interaction between the user and the machine. The others note everything they hear on the recording. Sometimes when the listener comes across personal information of the speaker like bank accounts, etc, they mark it’ Critical Content’ and start the next recording.
Every so often they come across some weird recordings. A couple of employees reported what they thought was a sexual assault!
The far-flung employees share this information in their internal chats or so as reported by an employee.
While this might seem like a big issue, there is an option available for the users to disable the voice collection program. Amazon also ensured the utmost safety of the information they receive.
Echo is not the first assistant to do this. Siri and Google assistant also collect user information to improve user experience. While Google claims that the audio recordings are hasty in their case, Siri might store the information for future purposes. ( development programs)