Remember when Apple contractors were caught listening to your Siri queries? Oh, the humanity! The shame. Why Apple? Why? As it turned out, the reason was a good one, but seemingly overlooked among the Privacy Police.
How so? Apple forgot to tell us someone was listening to us. As it turns out, Google, Amazon, and others did the same thing. I had trouble finding those news headlines. Well, guess who sells Cameras? Amazon. Guess who watches the video taken by those cameras?
Apple’s reasoning for listening to Siri queries seems plausible. The company needs to know if Siri understood and responded properly. Fair enough. Fixed.
What about those internet-connected cameras? Bloomberg:
Dozens of Amazon workers based in India and Romania review select clips captured by Cloud Cam
Oh the humanity!
Do those workers have health care plans? Do they receive bonuses when Amazon makes a profit? Do they have names?
Amazon apparently does the same thing as Apple. It captures snippets and checks to see if Alexa or the Cloud Cam understood what was going on and responded appropriately.
Those video snippets are then used to train the AI algorithms to do a better job distinguishing between a real threat (a home invader) and a false alarm (the cat jumping on the sofa).
That, too, seems plausible.
Cloud Cam sends out alerts when it’s just paper rustling in a breeze. Apple Inc.’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa still occasionally mishear commands. One day, engineers may overcome these shortfalls, but for now AI needs human assistance. Lots of it.
So long as such collections are known by and approved by the customer, I don’t have a problem with it. Even better if it is totally Opt-In.
Despite Amazon’s insistence that all the clips are provided voluntarily, according to two of the people, the teams have picked up activity homeowners are unlikely to want shared, including rare instances of people having sex.
Just to be sure, are those rare instances because people don’t have sex as much as they once did, or, they’re having more sex but away from Alexa and Cloud Cam, or is Amazon listening to what’s on TV?
Bloomberg doesn’t say.
Using humans to train the artificial intelligence inside consumer products is controversial among privacy advocates because of concerns its use can expose personal information.
I want to sense that this whole privacy issue is much ado over not much, but one has to ask the question, “Who do you trust?”
Apple? Amazon? The U.S. Government? Bloomberg? Certainly not Bloomberg. Definitely not Amazon.
Maybe what I should do is learn to mimic Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm in the diner in When Harry Met Sally.
Hey Siri; listen to this!
Followed up by…
Hey, Rajeesh; did you get that?
So, who watches you more than Amazon? In China, the government. Elsewhere, probably God. And he doesn’t seem too happy about what he sees.