Amazon is listening to what you tell Alexa

It’s come out that Amazon has people listening to snippets of Alexa conversations to improve their voice search and commands. The situation highlights one of the fundamental issues around search: how do you protect user privacy while at the same training the systems to get better based on real data?

With text-based search engines, the process of training on query logs and user behavior feels less intrusive than it does with voice search. (Though the AOL query log leak in 2006 might prove otherwise.)

The situation highlights one of the fundamental issues around search: how do you protect user privacy while at the same training the systems to get better based on real data? With text-based search engines, the process of training on query logs and user behavior feels less intrusive than it does with voice search. (Though the AOL query log leak in 2006 might prove otherwise.)

A global team reviews audio clips in an effort to help the voice-activated assistant respond to commands. 

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. 

The Alexa voice review process, described by seven people who have worked on the program, highlights the often-overlooked human role in training software algorithms. In marketing materials Amazon says Alexa “lives in the cloud and is always getting smarter.” But like many software tools built to learn from experience, humans are doing some of the teaching.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-10/is-anyone-listening-to-you-on-alexa-a-global-team-reviews-audio

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