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Busted: Thousands Of Amazon Employees Listening To Alexa Conversations

Amazon employs thousands of people to listen in on what people around the world are saying to their Alexa digital assistant, according to what is sure to be a Congressional hearing-inspiring report by Bloomberg, which cites seven people who have worked on the program.

While their job is to “help improve” NSAlexa – which powers the company’s line of Echo speakers – the team “listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices,” which are then transcribed, annotated and fed back into the software in order to try and improve Alexa’s understanding of human speech for more successful interactions. In other words, humans are effectively helping to train Amazon’s algorithm.

In marketing materials Amazon says Alexa “lives in the cloud and is always getting smarter.” But like many software tools built to learn from experience, humans are doing some of the teaching. -Bloomberg

The listening team is comprised of part-time contractors and full-time Amazon employees based all over the world; including India, Romania, Boston and Costa Rica.

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