It is a fact that virtual assistants are here to stay and that they have to listen to what we say to work well and obey our voice commands, and apparently, this is a concept that for many people it is something intrusive, as we could notice after Bloomberg revealed that Amazon has teams of people that listen to a small portion of the total commands that you give to Alexa.
If you have an Echo and you are surprised and unworthy with this news, it is best for you to go forgetting to use any other electronic that has a microphone, including your phone. Today, all phones have a virtual assistant that we know that you have already used, although in an occasion. And if you’ve ever installed an application, it is possible that you have given access to your camera and microphone to teams of developers.
Since the access to these capabilities is done not only through hardware but also the software and the internet, your commands have to get to somewhere outside of your phone. That is to say, that today, any device that has a microphone is going to hear you when you say a command and are going to send it to a data base of the company is the owner of the virtual assistant, whether it be Amazon, Google or Apple.
You say that there is no need for teams of humans to listen to your commands to Alexa. Well, if one day you are surprised by the capabilities of your answers, it is all thanks to these teams of human that teach Alexa to recognize the commands. The only way that technology companies (for now) to improve the capabilities of their intelligent assistants, is listening to your commands, and identifying what aspects can enhance the learning of machines.
Despite the fact that the machine learning has advanced, artificial intelligence is still a bit in its infancy and is just beginning to learn, understand, process, classify, and understand the way humans speak. This includes synonyms, the variety of accents and intonations. So, if you want that each day, your Alexa rank to understand more things, it is inevitable that you listen to some parts of our conversations with her.
If you bought an Echo, a Google Home or a HomePod, what did you do to not have to stand up to turn on the light when you are already comfortably lying in your bed. Or to not have to take your phone and type a question. In essence, you did it for comfort, and we all know that convenience has a price, and in this case, the price is that someone, somewhere in the world to hear something that you told your Alexa, without knowing who you are, how old you are or what your name is.
It is possible that, in about 50 years, Alexa, Siri Assistant and Google have already “matured” enough, and are able to learn by themselves, without the need of feedback is no human. But for now, you’ll have to sacrifice some small aspects of your privacy.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.
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