Published on April 12th, 2019 | by sligoadmin


Big Brother Listens

When you think no one cares and no one listens to you, rest assure Amazon does.


You know sometimes when you’re at home, playing music, drinking coffee, doing housework and you might have a loud conversation with yourself – everyone does it.  How the bitch in No. 10 is a “slag”; how your neighbour is a “weird auld bollix”; how your cousin is a “low life pr*ck”. But it’s all ok because you’re all alone.

But what if someone was listening?


Alexa is Amazon’s market leading, voice based “assistant”. Ask Alexa to play a particular song and it will be played. Ask Alexa to turn on the immersion and it will be done. Ask Alexa to name the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2006 and it will tell you. Alexa will do everything* you ask. However it has recently emerged that people are employed by Amazon to listen to recordings of actual “background” conversations. They do this to “improve the customer experience”. Review teams analyse recordings gathered from Alexa and these “interactions” are used to improve the software.


“We take the security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously. We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order to improve the customer experience,” said a spokesperson. It’s reported that some of these review teams have heard some distressing conversations.


But in the end it’s used to train Alexa for speech recognition and to understand natural language. This is so everyone can have a more personalised experience. So it’s all good.

*Please note that there are certain jobs Alexa won’t do – try asking Alexa to take out the bins or unplug the drains and you’ll be met with stony silence.

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