Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Home Tech Amazon lets people write off their conversations with Alexa

Amazon lets people write off their conversations with Alexa

If you have a smart Amazon echo speaker, do you ever feel like someone is listening to Amazon while talking to virtual assistant Alexa? According to a Bloomberg report, there are times when someone on Amazon actually hears recordings of their chats with Alexa. The company has a number of people who are paid to not only keep track of your interactions with Alexa, but also to write them down.

There are thousands of employees worldwide who transcribe these records, add comments and load the information into a software program. This is done so that Alexa understands better how people speak. It also helps the digital assistant to more accurately respond to user commands. Alexa is designed to use algorithms to improve performance and user experience. However, employees of Amazon are also involved in this process.

The transcriptions are used by Amazon to help Alexa capture some things that may not be covered by the company's algorithms. Alexa has problems understanding slang, foreign languages ​​and regional expressions. Both Apple and Google also transcribe recordings of users with Siri and Google Assistant. Apple's recordings do not contain information linking them to any particular user and are used to enhance Siri speech recognition. Some Google employees hear distorted audio from some users to help the company improve Google Assistant. Also, these recordings contain no information that binds them to specific users.

Since the confidentiality agreements they have signed are kept anonymous, the people who follow Echo users' conversations with Alexa are both Amazon full-time employees and consultants. Each employee works in teams that are not based in offices such as Boston, Costa Rica, India, and Romania, and spends a nine-hour day listening to over 1,000 audio clips. While this work is fairly routine, people occasionally hear things when someone in the shower sings off-key. And if there is a word that can not be clearly understood, an internal system allows employees to share audio files.

Current job postings for Alexa Data Services in Bucharest show what the job is about. The ad notes that "every day she [Alexa] hears thousands of people talking to her about different topics and languages, and she needs our help to understand everything. This is big data handling like you've never seen before. We create, tag, curate and analyze large amounts of language every day. "

As you can imagine, the recorded conversations sometimes contain something that interferes with monitoring the bands. Two workers in Romania heard the sounds they considered sexual assault. While Amazon claims to have procedures that employees must follow when something similar appears in a recording, the employees say they were told that Amazon should not intervene.

Amazon uses the transcriptions to help Alexa understand slang, regional expressions, and foreign languages

Echo users can prevent Amazon from using voice recordings to develop new features. Those who choose to reject it can still rewrite their recordings to improve Alexa's abilities. Although Bloomberg has found that the records sent to the transcribers do not contain the user's full name and full address, they also include the user's first name, account number, and serial number of the user's echo device.

Earlier this year, another report reported that employees of Amazon's Bell Camera Unit manually identify people and vehicles detained in front of the camera. Amazon says that this is done by hand to learn the software from Ring as it happens automatically.


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