Bloomberg have a report out that highlighted the human labour that goes into manufacturing and improving the Amazon Echo. Amazon have contractors and full time employees working on the Amazon Echo. They’re all over the globe and tasked with reviewing and transcribing clips. Clips that are of conversations between users and Alexa. According to the report from Bloomberg, humans are said to annotate interactions to help identify phrases. Phrases such as “Taylor Swift” that might otherwise be meaningless to the software.
“We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order 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.
Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow. All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption and audits of our control environment to protect it,”an Amazon spokesman told Bloomberg.
Amazon Echo Chat Room
According Bloomberg, as a result of collating all this data, Amazon workers have a chat room. This chat room is intended for asking for help if they can’t make out a word or phrase. However, allegedly, they also share “amusing” recordings. Furthermore, an Amazon worker, told Bloomberg that each member of the team will listen to as much as 100 clips a day. Clips that Alexa has mistaken or unintentionally activated. Bloomberg have reported that one of these workers will review as many as 1,000 clips in a day! (A full 9hr working day shift)
In cases where the Alexa has tripped unintentionally, there has also been some serious recordings. According to the report, two workers who have spoken to Bloomberg. Who believe they heard a sexual assault taking place. Furthermore another two workers told Bloomberg that they were given guidance not to intervene. As Amazon didn’t consider it the company’s place to intervene in cases like these.
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