On Wednesday, April 10th, Bloomberg released a report confirming what we all knew was happening – but maybe not to this level. Amazon is listening to you! Amazon is paying thousands of people to listen into end users conversations with Echo smart speakers. The reasoning behind this is for the development of the smart assistant technology. Employees listen to conversations and fill out reports in an effort to improve Alexa’s communication skills with it’s users.
How is Amazon responding?
Amazon has policies in place to protect user privacy. Each employee signs a non-disclosure agreement before starting one of these research positions. There is a zero-tolerance policy for employees who break this agreement. There are also settings within the Alexa app that allow customers to opt-out of allowing Amazon to use their data for research purposes.
What Amazon be doing?
Apple has developed the Siri smart assistant without listening into users and accessing their data. Every conversation a user has with the Siri smart assistant is anonymous and encrypted. Even with these road blocks, Apple has developed a smart assistant that is able to compete with the likes of Alexa and the Google Assistant. Yes, human research. with this vast amount of researchable data may have helped Amazon develop Alexa at the speed it has. However, there is a distinct trade-off with the loss privacy for users. Amazon should follow Apple’s example.
How does this make you feel about Alexa? Does it concern you that Amazon is listening into it’s consumers? Does this report move the needle at all one way or another? Let me know by commenting below or reaching out to me on social media.