You know that (not so) irrational fear that Alexa is actually recording every conversation that you have and putting it online? Well, that just became a reality.
An American couple had been joking around that Alexa might be listening in – a funny joke until it actually came true.
Here’s how it played out
The couple apparently received a call from a co-worker, saying that they had just been sent an audio file of them having a private conversation in their home. They thought it was a hoax call at first, until the caller revealed that they had just been talking about * wait for it * hardwood floors. Bet they were glad that their conversation was on the dull side.
They then rushed around their home unplugging all their IoT devices, and contacted Amazon HQ.
Amazon apparently apologised ‘several times’ for this colossal error. They explained that it was a ‘rare occurrence’. Rare? Rare means that it still happens, Amazon.
After looking at the couple’s device logs, they said that the Echo device must have woken up due to hearing a word in the background that sounded like ‘Alexa’. Then the conversation that Alexa heard was interpreted as a ‘send message’ request. Er, ok. Alexa apparently then said ‘to whom?’, and the background conversation was again interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list.
If this is how it really happened, then Amazon has a long way to go with their AI to ensure that these kinds of mistakes don’t happen again.
Not much of a confidence vote here, Amazon.