Amazon admits that its staff listens to customers’ Alexa conversations

Amazon has admitted that its employees eavesdrop on customers’ Alexa conversations in order to improve speech recognition on the device, according to the Drum.

This allows staff to correct any words that the Alexa AI hasn’t been able to pick up. The recordings are then transcribed, annotated and then fed back to into the machine so that Amazon can prevent similar misinterpretations in the future.

“This information helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone,” Amazon said in a statement.

“We have strict technical and operational safeguards and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system. Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow.”

Amazon’s Alexa privacy setting does not currently allow owners to opt out of voice recordings but they can stop files being used to develop new features. Users can also delete previous voice recordings.

The terms and conditions for Amazon’s Alexa state that voice recording is used to “answer your questions, fulfil your requests, and improve your experience and our services”. However, the company does not explicitly mention that humans review customer recordings.

More than 100 million Alexa devices have been sold to date.

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