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Amazon Workers Listen to Echo Commands

Paul Rubens - April 11, 2019 - 09:48 AM
Amazon Workers Listen  to Echo Commands
Many Echo device users have been surprised to learn that recordings of their voices may be listened to by humans.

(CCM) — Thousands of Amazon employees around the world listen to voice recordings collected by the company's Echo devices, according to a Bloomberg report.

The Amazon staff listen to the recordings and transcribe them, before annotating them to provide feedback which is designed to improve the capability of Amazon's Alexa digital assistant by helping it understand human speech more effectively. Recordings are associated with the user's first name, account number, and device's serial number.

"We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order [to] improve the customer experience," an Amazon spokesman said in the report. "For example, 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.”

Although the workers are bound by non-disclosure agreements preventing them from talking about their jobs, one person said that he had been tasked with going through instances of people saying "Taylor Swift" and annotating them to indicate that they referred to the music artist.

The news has come as a surprise to many Echo device owners who were unaware that their recordings may be listened to by humans. But Amazon gives Echo device owners the option of disabling the use of their voice recordings, according to the report.

Image: © Peppinuzzo - Shutterstock.com
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