If you are an Amazon Echo or Alexa user, chances are that your voice queries are being heard
But Amazon says the people who are listening are actually doing it for our own good.
Although Alexa has a self-learning system, its training needs a human touch because understanding the human experience is something it can’t do on its own. The teams are based in Boston, Costa Rica, India and Romania. Amazon employees actively listen to Alexa recording from Echo devices. Amazon has folks working for the company whose job is to transcribe interactions between their Amazon Echo (Alexa, to you and me) and customers.
The team listens to voice recordings captured by Echo in homes and offices. The recordings are transcribed, annotated and then fed back into the software as part of an effort to eliminate gaps. This improves Alexa’s understanding of human speech and helps it better respond to commands.
Each Amazon employee for this purpose hears around 1,000 interactions each day. This information is then used to ‘teach’ the Alexa software for better user experience.
One of the workers shared his experience and said he mined accumulated voice for specific utterances such as Taylor Swift and annotated them to indicate the searcher meant the musical artist.
The audio clips don’t carry the identity or information of the customers. However, the identifiers to include the customer’s first name and product serial number.
An Amazon spokesman said:
“We take the security and privacy of our customer’s personal information seriously. We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order to improve the customer experience. 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.”
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