AI assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant can be super useful to use. They give us hands-free access to a plethora of information and are useful for managing certain aspects of daily life. But as the technology spreads, some of the facts about AI assistants are spreading as well. Like the fact that Google workers can listen to what you say to your Google Home.
In April, news broke that Amazon employees could listen to what you said to Alexa. Now, Google is confirming that some contract workers can hear what you’re saying to your Google Home using Google Assistant. Google has admitted to this after Dutch language recordings were leaked, Google is investigating the leak.
Belgian broadcaster VRT obtained the recordings and claim that of more than 1,000 clips, 153 clips were captured by Google in error. In other words, the Google Home device was recording when it shouldn’t have been. To launch your Google Assistant, you must use the hot word “OK Google.”
Google says contractors listen to recordings to better understand language patterns and accents and notes that recordings may be used by the company in its user terms. This feature can be turned off, but doing so means Assistant loses much of its personalized touch.
A spokesman for the company told Wired only 0.2% of all recordings are accessed by humans for transcription, and that the audio files are stripped of identifying user information.
However, the report from VRT found recordings of users that had identifiable information, including one person’s address and other personal information, like a family discussing their grandchildren by name, another user discussing their love life, and one user talking about how quickly a child was growing.The Guardian
Incidents like this do have some users concerned about AI technology and their privacy. The best advice we have for this is, either don’t buy a device like a Google Home or Echo. Or just deal with the fact that Google and Amazon are, in some capacity, are listening to what is being said in the privacy of your own home.
Last Updated on February 3, 2021.