clearn.png
Tuesday July 16th, 2019 1:11AM

Human workers can listen to Google Assistant recordings

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google contractors regularly listen to and review some recordings of what people say to artificial-intelligence system Google Assistant, via their phone or through smart speakers such as the Google Home.

The company acknowledged that humans can access those recordings after some of its Dutch language audio snippets were leaked. Google product manager David Monsees acknowledged the leak in a blog post Thursday, and said the company is investigating the breach.

"We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again," he wrote.

More than 1,000 recordings were obtained by Belgian broadcaster VRT NWS, which noted in a story that some contained sensitive personal conversations — as well as information that identified the person speaking. Google says no user account information is associated with the recordings, and reviewers are instructed not to transcribe background conversations.

But VRT reporters could hear spoken home addresses in some of the recordings, and were able to track down the speakers. Some of these conversations were not directed at Assistant and happened either as background noise or as a mistaken recording when Assistant thought it was being spoken to, but wasn't.

Google says contractors listen to recordings to better understand language patterns and accents. Its user terms confirm recordings may be used by the company, stating Assistant "records your voice and audio on Google services to improve speech recognition."

Monsees wrote that Google works with contractors around the world to analyze the recordings.

"These language experts review and transcribe a small set of queries to help us better understand those languages," he wrote.

Google's terms don't explicitly say that people review the recordings, but do state that data could be analyzed as the company updates services or create new features.

The company acknowledged earlier this year that its reviewers listen to anonymous recordings in response to a Bloomberg report revealing that Amazon's Alexa also uses contractors to listen to recordings. Amazon confirmed the report.

Google's recording feature can be turned off, but doing so means Assistant loses some of its personalized touch. People who turn off the recording feature lose the ability for the Assistant to recognize individual voices and learn your voice pattern.

Assistant recording is actually turned off by default — but the technology prompts users to turn on recording and other tools in order to get personalized features.

Google Assistant is available on more than 1 billion devices, including smartphones and smart speakers. It's made quite a dent in the smart speaker market — still the primary place where people use voice technology — but still trails behind Amazon.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Renowned forensic scientist's testimony comes under question
Renowned forensic scientist Henry Lee is defending work he did three decades ago
3:14PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Harley-Davidson's electric Hog: 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds
Harley-Davidson says electric Hog will cost nearly $30,000, feature free charging at participating dealers for first 2 years
3:10PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Biden promises to end 'forever wars' as president
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is promising to refocus American foreign policy to combat the authoritarianism and global instability he says are proliferating under President Donald Trump
3:00PM ( 37 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Setbacks for Trump's drive to lower prescription drug costs
After two setbacks this week, President Donald Trump is now focusing his drive to curb drug costs on congressional efforts aimed at helping people on Medicare and younger generations covered by workplace plans
2:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
Dow Jones industrials cross 27,000 points for first time
An early rally on Wall Street that sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 27,000 for the first time lost much of its momentum Thursday afternoon
2:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Amazon, seeking more skilled workers, will do the training
Amazon to spend more than $700M on training for about a third of its US workforce
2:21PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Trump shows love-hate for social media as he leads 'summit'
President Donald Trump displayed his love-hate relationship with social media in tweets bashing "biased" Big Tech ahead of a White House 'summit' stacked with conservative critics of the platforms.
12:49PM ( 2 hours ago )
France adopts pioneering tax on tech giants after US threat
France has adopted a pioneering tax on internet giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook despite threats from the U.S.
12:29PM ( 3 hours ago )
'Robot umpires' debut in independent Atlantic League
'Robot umpires' debut in independent Atlantic League; computer calls balls and strikes at All-Star Game
12:05PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Technology News
Renowned forensic scientist's testimony comes under question
Renowned forensic scientist Henry Lee is defending work he did three decades ago
3:14PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Harley-Davidson's electric Hog: 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds
Harley-Davidson says electric Hog will cost nearly $30,000, feature free charging at participating dealers for first 2 years
3:10PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Biden promises to end 'forever wars' as president
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is promising to refocus American foreign policy to combat the authoritarianism and global instability he says are proliferating under President Donald Trump
3:00PM ( 37 minutes ago )
Rough total for Trump's July Fourth extravaganza: $5.4M
The cost estimates are in on the tanks, fireworks and portable toilets, and the first rough total possible for President Donald Trump's July Fourth extravaganza: $5.4 million
2:54PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Hospital fires 23 workers in case of excessive doses, deaths
An Ohio hospital system says it's firing 23 more employees and changing leadership after investigating excessive painkiller doses given to dozens of patients who died
2:50PM ( 48 minutes ago )