Amazon Alexa and its competitors

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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#51

Post by RTH10260 » Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:37 am

crosspost
Newly Released Amazon Patent Shows Just How Much Creepier Alexa Can Get
PETER DOCKRILL 28 MAY 2019
A newly revealed patent application filed by Amazon is raising privacy concerns over an envisaged upgrade to the company's smart speaker systems. This change would mean that, by default, the devices end up listening to and recording everything you say in their presence.

Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant system that runs on the company's Echo series of smart speakers, works by listening out for a 'wakeword' that tells the device to turn on its extended speech recognition systems in order to respond to spoken commands.

On Amazon's devices, the wakeword is 'Alexa', but similar systems control how Apple devices work ('Hey Siri') and also Google's ('Hey Google'), not to mention products from other tech companies.

In theory, Alexa-enabled devices will only record what you say directly after the wakeword, which is then uploaded to Amazon, where remote servers use speech recognition to deduce your meaning, then relay commands back to your local speaker.

But one issue in this flow of events, as Amazon's recently revealed patent application argues, is it means that anything you say before the wakeword isn't actually heard.

"A user may not always structure a spoken command in the form of a wakeword followed by a command (eg. 'Alexa, play some music')," the Amazon authors explain in their patent application, which was filed back in January, but only became public last week.

"Instead, a user may include the command before the wakeword (eg. 'Play some music, Alexa') or even insert the wakeword in the middle of a command (eg. 'Play some music, Alexa, the Beatles please'). While such phrasings may be natural for a user, current speech processing systems are not configured to handle commands that are not preceded by a wakeword."

To overcome this barrier, Amazon is proposing an effective workaround: simply record everything the user says all the time, and figure it out later.

Rather than only record what is said after the wakeword is spoken, the system described in the patent application would effectively continuously record all speech, then look for instances of commands issued by a person.

"The [proposed] system is configured to capture speech that precedes and/or follows a wakeword," the application explains, "such that the speech associated with the command and wakeword can be included together and considered part of a single utterance that may be processed by a system."


https://www.sciencealert.com/creepy-new ... rom-now-on

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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#52

Post by Orlylicious » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:59 pm

We have 4 Echos and a Dot, they are awesome. You can hit the mute button on each device, or guess what -- Unplug it! Instant privacy, no power, no recording. That works :lol:

By far we use it most for music, the Echo 2nd Gen has Dolby bass. I can say right now, "Alexa, play Streisand and Sinatra I Have Got A Crush On You" and boom, gorgeous sounds synced perfectly on all speakers. Or even say, "Alexa, play songs like the Star Trek theme" and she will. And while you're listening, you can add a song to a playlist or even make a new one, just by saying it to Alexa. With two Echos you make a stereo pair and get L and R channels. In the 90's, I paid 6 figures for what essentially is in these objects :shock: . If you mute all but one, it can hear the commands. I also get a beep at med time, set wakeup to any song I want, keep items for shopping (you just say, get milk, when you get to the store you open the app and it's done), etc. You can get TV audio "Alexa play CNN on TuneIn" -- gosh, I bet I could get Freedom Friday! But I don't want her to hear it.

Any recording or storage is going to be deleted quickly, there are 100 million devices+. Like I said, just unplug it if you need privacy, otherwise Alexa does great and everyone we know who has it LOVES it.

When I'm speaking with Amazon associates, I always ask, where is Alex? Enough with the girls, let's have a hot guy voice. Alex, make me coffee! :thumbs: :smoking:
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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#53

Post by MN-Skeptic » Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:09 pm

Well, that was interesting. I went to renew my Sirius radio and add all access (i.e. streaming) so I can listen on my iPhone, and when they told me the cost for the year, including taxes and fees, would be $328.68, I said, Oh, no, just cancel my account. At which point they offered me the service including streaming for $156.48 in total for year and I said, Ok, I have that in my budget.

The extra interesting part? They gave me a promotion code to get a FREE Amazon Echo Dot! Cool. The comments in this thread have piqued my interest, so I think it will be fun to try out the Echo Dot.
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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#54

Post by tek » Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:12 pm

Off Topic
Every year I have the "I'm going to cancel" conversation with Sirius. It's like a stupid game.
They offered me a dot, but I declined.
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from there to here

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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#55

Post by MN-Skeptic » Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:16 pm

tek wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:12 pm
Off Topic
Every year I have the "I'm going to cancel" conversation with Sirius. It's like a stupid game.
They offered me a dot, but I declined.
I figured I'd try the Dot out and if I didn't like it, I have plenty of folks I can give it to.
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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#56

Post by Northland10 » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:00 pm

On Star Trek, you had to say 'computer' before asking it to do something. If it was good enough for Picard to ask for a Mozart quartet, or to blow up the ship, it should be good enough for Alexis users.
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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#57

Post by RTH10260 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:25 am

How to use the Alexa app in Windows 10

By Lance Whitney in Software on June 21, 2019, 12:53 PM PST

You can chat with Alexa directly from your Windows 10 PC. Learn how to install, customize, and use the Alexa Windows 10 app.

You can call on Amazon Alexa for help in Windows 10 without an Echo device nearby—the secret lies in Amazon's Alexa app for Windows. Through this app, you can summon Alexa either by clicking an on-screen button or just saying "Alexa" via a hands-free mode. After Alexa pops up, you can ask questions, request information, check your calendar and other personal services, and access different skills and tasks. You can also tweak various options to control the Alexa app.

Why use Alexa in Windows 10 when Cortana is available?

Maybe you have an Echo device through which you access your calendar, to-do list, and other information. Maybe you find Alexa more helpful than Cortana. Or maybe you'd just like to try out another voice assistant beyond Cortana. To use the Alexa app, you don't need an Echo device, but you do need an Amazon account.


https://www.techrepublic.com/article/ho ... indows-10/

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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#58

Post by tek » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:27 am

Or maybe you want yet another service recording and storing everything you say.
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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#59

Post by Slim Cognito » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:45 am

Orlylicious wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:59 pm
We have 4 Echos and a Dot, they are awesome. You can hit the mute button on each device, or guess what -- Unplug it! Instant privacy, no power, no recording. That works :lol:
...
When I'm speaking with Amazon associates, I always ask, where is Alex? Enough with the girls, let's have a hot guy voice. Alex, make me coffee! :thumbs: :smoking:
I mostly use her to play music for the parrot when I'm gone. I usually play the Monkees or Weird Al . She seems to like them best. I like that I can turn the music (or house lights) on and off from my phone. Hubs mumbles so he's not so enthused.

I want an option to call her Hal, along with Hal's voice. Then I want to make impossible demands so she has to tell me "I can't do that."
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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#60

Post by Slim Cognito » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:11 pm

I just told Alexa to add Spic & Span to my shopping list. She responded with "I added (beep) and Span to your shopping list.
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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#61

Post by AndyinPA » Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:13 pm

:rotflmao:

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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#62

Post by RTH10260 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:12 am

Stop Amazon employees from listening to your Alexa recordings
Don't want to run the risk of anyone reviewing your Alexa recordings? Turn this feature off.

JASON CIPRIANI
AUGUST 6, 2019 9:04 AM PDT

Last week, Amazon announced that you can opt out of a program that Amazon used to improve Alexa. Amazon employees listen to a small portion of recordings to verify accuracy, potentially exposing private conversations and information to those employees. Amazon added the option after Apple and Google announced similar plans to stop listening to recordings.

Earlier this year CNET revealed Amazon keeps transcripts of your Alexa recordings, even after you delete the audio portion of the interaction. The company eventually added the ability for you to delete recordings and transcripts.

You can opt out using the website or the Alexa app on your phone.


https://www.cnet.com/how-to/stop-amazon ... ecordings/

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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#63

Post by RTH10260 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:15 am

A note: according to a recent article (no link back) Amazon employees are allowed to review the Alexa sound bites even when not in their companies office. They are permitted to do so remote eg from their home office. So the whole family may join into the laughter.

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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#64

Post by RTH10260 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:28 pm

Gadgets can be hacked to produce 'dangerous' sounds, says researcher
11 August 2019

Sustained loud sounds can annoy and disorientate people

Many modern gadgets can be hacked to produce deafening and disorienting sounds, research has revealed.

Security researcher Matt Wixey found a range of devices had little protection to stop themselves being turned into "offensive" low-grade, cyber-weapons.

Mr Wixey tested laptops, mobile phones, headphones, a PA system and several types of speakers.

The weaknesses could cause physical harm, harass individuals or disrupt larger organisations, he said.

Annoying tones

Mr Wixey, who is a head of research at PwC's cyber-security practice, said he conducted the experiments as part of PhD work into the ways that malware can directly cause physical harm.

He sought to find out if the volume and speaker controls of the devices could be manipulated to make them produce harmful high and low frequency sounds.

Custom-made viruses, known vulnerabilities and other exploits were used to subvert the devices and make them emit the dangerous sounds for long periods of time.


https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49291665

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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#65

Post by SLQ » Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:31 pm

So I recently got an Echo input for my living room so I can use my stereo for the sound when I play music, podcasts, etc. And I moved the existing Dot to the bathroom (don't judge :fingerwag: -- I listen to stuff while getting ready).

So I was a little creeped out when it seemed that there was a glitch and the Dot turned off frequently and then sensed when I entered the bathroom and went through her starting up procedure and then turned on. :? :shock:

. . . A few weeks went by, with me being creeped out at Alexa somehow knowing when I was entering the bathroom.

Then I realized. :idea: I live in a 1930s vintage building. My (only) bathroom outlet only turns on when I turn on the light switch (outside the bathroom). You'd think I would have realized this earlier, because I went through this when my dad was living here. I bought a night light that turned on when someone entered the bathroom so my dad could use the bathroom at night without turning on the full light. But it didn't work. I realized after a day or so that it didn't work because the outlet was only on when the switch (and regular light) was on. Fail. So I found a solution and installed a night light that has a motion sensor but mounts on the wall and has a rechargeable battery. That was last fall.

Why it took me weeks to figure out this same problem with my Dot is anyone's guess. :bag: But I'm glad it's fixed. I'm thinking of getting some smart bulbs for the bathroom so I can leave the switch on and the Dot will always be on. (Yes, I've considered the ramifications of having the Dot on in the bathroom. But I live by myself and typically don't talk while I'm in there, so there's nothing to accidentally record.)
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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#66

Post by Orlylicious » Wed Aug 21, 2019 11:31 pm

Thanks for the reminder, we wipe the data out from time to time but mostly we just keep the mute button on, it's not an issue for us.

Smart bulbs are awesome. There are smart outlets (we have an Austin Air purifier hooked into that) and bulbs, we've replaced nearly all of them. They all have different software to set them up, so good to pick a brand. We have several and it's no big deal, just have to sign up for each one and download the app. We have a Eufy and Lohas bulb too. Lumens, dimmability, Alexa compatibility and color scale were good on all of them really.

We've liked
FRANKEVER Smart LED Light Bulbs, E26 / E27 Medium Base, A21 LED Bulb Size,RGB+White Dimmable Multi Color Changing,Perfect with Alexa,Google Assistant, IFTTT, WiFi, No Hub Required (10W, 2 Pack)
Price: $25.99 & FREE Returns


The app for these is called Brightfun, and it's easy to set up by room. Then it connects to Alexa and when you say good night it can shut everything down, turn on an air purifier, say a custom message (set that in Routines... you can make her say anything), and play a meditation or audible book.


In the 90's, I was blessed and had a penthouse in Manhattan and spent hundreds of thousands on smart home features with all the bells and whistles, it was all new technology then and it was crazy. One night the IR sensors stopped working, the team tried to figure it out for a week... turns out it was in the line of sight of the Empire State Building and that interfered. The main system was called Stargate Commander or something, Windows was new, and it was all cabling everywhere (did some construction so lots got built in). When it worked, it controlled everything with Scenarios (which are now Routines on Alexa for free!). It ran lights plus Meridien audio system, steam shower, jacuzzi, Hunter Douglas blinds, projector and motorized screen, it was something else. It still blows my mind that so much of what we did (the place ended up featured in a lot of electronic home magazines, with the view it made cover several times) is now virtually free. Now we have 4 Echos, 3 Fire 10 tablets and a Dot, it's awesome. When you have two you can make a stereo pair and it's awesome hearing the left and right channels. We sometimes put all 4 in the same room (we have the battery bases so they're portable), the sound is mindblowing. We had the Dot in the bath but put an Echo there instead and it's much better to hear in the shower. Dot is in the kitchen and works out. Now they just need to let these carry audio from TV sets. Just got an invite for Echo Auto, it's coming... we don't need it but we're on the beta list, looks interesting. This is a goldmine for Amazon.
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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#67

Post by neonzx » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:43 am

To which Trump replied, Fuck the law. I don't give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money.

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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#68

Post by Sugar Magnolia » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:37 pm

neonzx wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:43 am
OOOhhhh, I need to let my friend in NYC know that. He found out the other day that if he stands in a specific spot in his kitchen he can control his upstairs neighbor's Alexa. His first test was after being woken by their metal music in the middle of the night and changing it to Andy Griffith gospel.

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Re: Amazon Alexa and its competitors

#69

Post by RTH10260 » Wed Oct 16, 2019 9:24 pm

not only Alexa audio...
Amazon Workers May Be Watching Your Cloud Cam Home Footage
Teams in India and Romania use video snippets sent by customers for troubleshooting purposes and to train artificial intelligence algorithms.

By Natalia Drozdiak, Giles Turner, and Matt Day
October 10, 2019, 11:00 AM GMT+2

In a promotional video, Amazon.com Inc. says its Cloud Cam home security camera provides “everything you need to monitor your home, day or night.” In fact, the artificially intelligent device requires help from a squad of invisible employees.

Dozens of Amazon workers based in India and Romania review select clips captured by Cloud Cam, according to five people who have worked on the program or have direct knowledge of it. 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).

An Amazon team also transcribes and annotates commands recorded in customers’ homes by the company’s Alexa digital assistant, Bloomberg reported in April.

AI has made it possible to talk to your phone. It’s helping investors predict shifts in market sentiment. But the technology is far from infallible. 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.


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... -by-humans

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