Nowadays, many people own a smart speaker, as they are easy to use and quick to assist people on all kinds of tasks. However, many others are reserved about such devices, and would rather not use them, for fear they might be eavesdropping on their everyday conversations. It turns out they should worry about those powered by Amazon Alexa.
Rohit Prasad, the head researcher on the Alexa mechanism and vice president of Amazon, explained these devices won’t listen to the users’ conversations. When the first smart assistants were designed, their creators were aware they might pose some privacy issues. Therefore, they built accordingly, so that they won’t be able to do it.
The Alexa smart speakers are unable to listen to what the users say if they are not willing to be heard. In other words, the devices are not advanced enough from a technical point of view to listen to everything that is going on around it. They can remember what the users said for only a few seconds after they heard the words.
The mechanism behind Alexa is not so elaborated
Also, they have specific wake words which activate them. Then, they listen to the commands, and perform the actions, but it can pick them up once every few seconds. This means that it doesn’t store anything and, once you issued a command and it gets performed, it’s gone forever.
The Alexa mechanism allows it to understand only four wake words, and each of them is controlled by a strict algorithm. This means that, at that moment, the speaker is programmed to understand only one word and nothing more.
Then, it starts recording, and this is signaled by the ring at the top of the device which gets illuminated. The command is sent to the Amazon servers, and only then different AI machines take over and perform the action. The speaker itself has limited capabilities, and it’s not advanced enough to listen to conversations.
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