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Amazon patent would let Alexa listen to and record conversations without wake word

By midian182 · 9 replies
May 24, 2019
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  1. While current digital assistants require a wake word such as “Alexa” or “OK Google,” the patent describes how this word could come at any point during a command, including the end. Given examples include: “Play some music, Alexa,” and “Play some music, Alexa. The Beatles, please.”

    In order to perform this function, devices such as the Echo speaker line would need to be constantly recording and storing audio so they can “look backwards” should they hear the word “Alexa.”

    While the system has obvious privacy implications, the patent states that all captured speech doesn’t need to be sent to Amazon. The process could also be configured to store between only 10 seconds and 30 seconds of audio at a time.

    Despite these assurances, the idea of a smart speaker that is constantly recording conversations is unlikely to sit well with owners. Last month’s report of thousands of Amazon workers around the world listening to voice recordings didn’t help the Echo devices’ reputation for respecting privacy. We’ve also seen murder cases where Echo recordings have been examined for evidence.

    Another Amazon patent from last year described how Alexa could be constantly listening for certain trigger words, such as “love,” “like,” and “hate,” that will help it ascertain a user’s preferences and dislikes, which could then be used for targeted ads.

    As with all patents, there’s no guarantee this one will become a real-world feature. An Amazon spokesperson told Engadget: "Like many companies, we file a number of forward-looking patent applications that explore new scientific ideas that may not make it into customer-facing products. Patents take multiple years to receive and do not necessarily reflect current or near-future state of products and services."

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  2. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,144   +836

    Despite these assurances, the idea of a smart speaker that is constantly recording conversations is unlikely to sit well with owners. Last month’s report of thousands of Amazon workers around the world listening to voice recordings didn’t help the Echo devices’ reputation for respecting privacy. We’ve also seen murder cases where Echo recordings have been examined for evidence.


    I will never put one of these wiretaps in my home, my home office, my living room or my bedroom.

    I don't care if the government literally pays Amazon to park a truck in front of my house and give them out for free.

    I don't care if I "win" one free. I will promptly sell it on Ebay.

    I mean: how dumb and lazy have we become regarding our privacy?

    Orwell could never have imagined that people would give up their privacy enthusiastically.

    And the real thing that gets me is these social media companies have proven they can't be trusted with personal data.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,249   +3,665

    So now we have a patient on ease-dropping? That dosen't sound so much like a technical innovation as it does an endorsement on spying.
     
    rub900 likes this.
  4. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,804   +664

    I'm buying 10 and sending them to my girlfriends
     
    Dimitrios likes this.
  5. Dimitrios

    Dimitrios TS Guru Posts: 430   +310

    There are only one or two things I would never take if it was Free, like you said I totally agree I would never put one of these things in my house.

    I think the really bored/lonely or lazy would buy these products.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
    cliffordcooley and rub900 like this.
  6. Dimitrios

    Dimitrios TS Guru Posts: 430   +310


    Best comment for this year lol. Well done.
     
    EClyde and QuantumPhysics like this.
  7. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,819   +2,173

    Um, NO!
     
    Misagt likes this.
  8. Adi6293

    Adi6293 TS Maniac Posts: 191   +155

    My fiancée won one of these around 2 months ago, I told her if she wants to use it she will have to find a new home because its definitely not getting used in mine so she gave it to her sister, I already have my phone spying on me I dont need another thing doing it :)
     
  9. IAMTHESTIG

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,696   +786

    A self-contained AI can still always listen and learn from you while not being a privacy concern. I like to think of and hope this kind of tech becomes similar to how it was portrayed on Star Trek; where the system can be completely self contained or on a "closed-circuit" system in your home and you can achieve all sorts of things through verbal commands from simply getting the time all the way to more complex things like scheduling a time for specific appliances to turn on or off.

    Google has already demonstrated that a reliable offline speech recognition system can be small enough to fit on a smartphone; there is no reason this system has to be on the internet. We knew this was possible all along after gathering enough data from beta testing these systems against millions of different voices, languages, and speech patterns of people on the internet.
     
    Dimitrios likes this.
  10. lexster

    lexster TS Addict Posts: 274   +134

    Here's a simple solution; Don't buy a digital assistant!

    Alexa is too invasive as is. Siri and Gogle assistant too.

    There is no way I'm allowing one in my home.
     
    cliffordcooley likes this.

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