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Security fears raised as Alexa listens to conversations to train its AI


By John Glenday | Reporter

April 12, 2019 | 2 min read

Fresh security concerns have been raised over Amazon’s Alexa device after the company admitted that its employees listen in on conversations in order to improve speech recognition.


Security fears raised as Alexa earwigs on conversations to train its AI

This allows staff to correct any words which Alexa’s AI has been unable to identify on its own, manually correcting the transcription to inform the future interpretation of similar conversations.

In a statement, Amazon wrote: “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.

“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.”

Alexa does not currently allow owners to opt out of voice recording but individuals can block such files being used for further product development or delete archived recordings.

The revelation that it actively ‘reviews’ conversations will come as a surprise to many as its own terms and conditions do not explicitly mention the fact, vindicating those who have long voiced fears of erosion in privacy sparked by technological advances.

Amazon has confirmed the sale of 100 million Alexa devices but remains coy on usage figures.

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