Amazon’s Employees Are Listening to Your Alexa. How to Opt Out

by | May 9, 2019 | Blog | 0 comments

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Machines are getting smarter, but they still need some human help. Simply put: the best way for artificial intelligence (AI) to advance and become smarter is through real human input. That is why, for AI devices like Amazon’s Alexa, Amazon has employed people to listen in on users’ Alexa queries.

 

Why they are listening to Alexa

Amazon has thousands of employees listening to recordings of people asking Alexa questions. From these recordings, the employees transcribe the searches and feed them back to the Alexa software. As a result, Alexa gets a better understanding on how humans speak, and offers a better service to device users.

Voice recognition devices, like the Amazon Echo speaker, need to be trained through real-life scenarios to fully deliver the best answers and experience for users. To do this, real humans need to help out.

Many see this as a privacy issue, and that there has to be a better way to gather data than eavesdropping on unexpecting customers. One way around it would be to pay people to opt in as “trainers,” however, by default these staged users lose authenticity in capturing real world data.

Amazon claims that their employees are only interacting with a very small number of randomized customers. These employees have no way to identify who they are listening to. Their job is to simply listen and transcribe to the software. Therefore, all personal information is private, except for the query and how it is asked.

 

How to know if your device is recording

Amazon speakers only begin recording when a query includes the keywords “Alexa” or “Amazon.” When a device is actively recording, the top blue ring lights up. If the top ring is not lit up, the device is not recording.

 

How to purge recordings and opt out

There are ways to delete your recording history. One way is to delete them manually. Here’s how:

  • First, log into your Amazon account
  • In the drop-down menu, select Your Content and Devices
  • Select “Devices” in the navigation
  • Find your device and click on the icon to the left
  • Select “Delete voice recordings”

Another option is to opt out of becoming an “AI trainer” by adjusting your Alexa Privacy settings. Here’s how:

  • First, log into your Amazon account
  • In the drop-down menu, select Your Content and Devices
  • Select “Alexa Privacy” in the navigation
  • In the left menu, select “Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa”
  • Turn off the feature settings

By opting out of this feature, you will avoid allowing Amazon to use your raw recordings to train its Alexa software.

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