Amazon's Alexa doesn’t have the attention span to secretly eavesdrop on your conversations
Rohit Prasad, Amazon vice president and head scientist of Alexa machine learning, told Quartz that Echo devices have been built with safeguards to protect against unwanted eavesdropping. The devices are intentionally limited technically, so they don’t have the capability to listen to your conversations.
Alexa’s attention span, the buffer for how long Alexa stores what has been said, is only a few seconds, just long enough for the wake words (Alexa, Computer, Echo, or Amazon) that users can set. Nothing is saved on the device itself. It’s like recording on a tiny loop of analog tape: Every few seconds, the tape is rewritten.
Every Echo is loaded with four separate algorithms, each trained to listen for one of the four wake words. Once you set a wake word, that specific algorithm is activated, meaning your Echo can truly only understand one word. Only when the ring of lights around the top of an Alexa device is illuminated is the device recording and sending the audio to Amazon’s servers.
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