Enhancing your experience

Amazon isn’t SPYING on you. They’re just improving your experience!

Amazon workers are listening to private and sometimes disturbing voice recordings to improve the voice-assistants’ understanding of human speech. Amazon has admitted to its customers that thousands of recordings are being analysed by staff and transcribed before feeding them back into the software.

As many as 1,000 clips are reviewed by workers in buildings all over the world, many of which are not obviously run by the online giant.   Staff members have said that the work is mostly mundane, however they do come across embarrassing clips, like a woman singing off-key in the shower.  The teams use internal chat rooms to share files when they need help deciphering a muddled word – or come when they come across an amusing recording. Among more sinister content the workers have heard, have been a child screaming for help and two instances were they believed they heard a sexual assault taking place. 

Amazon last night confirmed the revelations when approached by Bloomberg saying that ‘an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings’ are analysed by staff. In an emailed statement to MailOnline, an Amazon spokesperson said: ‘We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order to improve the customer experience.

I find this particularly amusing because Spacebunny and I use the term “enhancing your user experience” as a synonym “made it stop working”. Which is usually expressed in some sort of context like this:

“Did you take out the trash?”

“No, I’m enhancing your user experience!”