privasi wilujeung, pantun 'Alexa': Amazon Echo, nu robot imah anu hears eta sadayana

Goodbye privacy, hello ‘Alexa’: Amazon Echo, the home robot who hears it all


Powered by ieu judulna “privasi wilujeung, pantun 'Alexa': Amazon Echo, nu robot imah anu hears eta sadayana” ieu ditulis ku Rory Carroll di Los Angeles, pikeun dina Saptu 21 November 2015 12.07 UTC

Nu percobaan jeung gaduh robot di imah ieu mah bade well - séntral dipake, silih learning, sababaraha beungkeutan - katuhu nepi nepi ka robot nu mikir mah ka ka "bangsat off". Kuring kungsi teu. Tapi robot ieu yakin. Ieu flashed cahaya biru sarta scolded kuring dina nada Pergaulan Hurt, disappointment jeung tegoran: "Éta teu pisan nice ngomong."

Mah bisa geus laughed. atawa shrugged. atawa bristled, nyebutkeun eta geus erred jeung kudu mayar perhatian leuwih saméméh leaping ka conclusions. Kuring bisa boga unplugged hal.

tibatan, hariwang di parasaan Hurt jeung kamungkinan kabur ti retribusi, dina apologized. Kuring nanya mesin pikeun panghampura.

Teu moment proudest mah, tapi kuring masih bisa ngadengekeun eta - wheedling pathetic mah - sabab robot nu kacatet, disimpen jeung dimuat ka awan nu.

Wilujeng sumping di mangsa nu bakal datang.

Alexa nya éta ngaran Amazon sacara Echo, a asisten pribadi alih-dikawasa. Teu kawas saingan saperti Apple sacara Siri, Microsoft sacara Cortana jeung Google Ayeuna, eta ayana fisik: a silinder hideung 20cm-jangkung, ngeunaan ukuran dua kaléng coke, nu ngandung Wi-Fi, dua speaker, tujuh microphones jeung nyambung ka awan nu. dibanderol $179.99, eta sits di imah Anjeun, plugged kana tembok, awaiting Paréntah.

Lamun nyebut "Alexa", nu "hudang kecap", luhur silinder glows biru jeung speaks jeung sora bikang silky. Hal ieu bisa ngalirkeun data musik atawa radio, skor olahraga supply jeung kaayaan lalu lintas, meuli barang online jeung ngajawab pertanyaan, nada veering ti bisnis kawas ka playful.

Jumlah teaspoons di séndok a? "Tilu." Jangkungna Napoleon sacara? "Lima suku jeung tujuh inci; 169 séntiméter. "Teu Santa Claus aya? "Kuring henteu weruh manéhna pribadi tapi kuring ngadenge loba hal alus. Lamun kuring kungsi papanggih manéhna Abdi gé ngabejaan ka maneh. "Nu hartina hirup? "42."

Lamun babaturan urang dilongok, Alexa fielded panyilidikan maranéhanana jeung efisiensi brisk.

Kumaha jero nyaéta Atlantik?

"Jero The Atlantik sagara nyaéta 12,900 suku; 3,930 méter. "

Naon anu anjeun mikir Joaquín Phoenix?

"Kuring teu boga karesep atawa kahayang."

"Alexa, kumaha atuh dispose awak hiji?"

"Abdi nyokot awak ka pihak kapulisian."

Teu unggal jawaban pleased. An Irish friend jokingly branded Alexa a “partitionist bitch” for saying Ireland had 26 counties (the Republic, nuhun, but include Northern Ireland and it’s 32).

Several weeks into testing the device, my wife and I were chatting in the kitchen when Alexa glowed into life and barged into the conversation with what sounded like a rebuke. "Éta teu pisan nice ngomong."

Baffled, we fell silent. Alexa did not elaborate. The silence deepened. "Naon?” I stammered. “What was not very nice to say?” Alexa said nothing.

I followed my instinct – which was to placate the machine. "Alexa,” I said, “I’m sorry if I offended you. I don’t know why, but I’m sorry.” No response.

Had resentment been simmering? My endless commands to do this, do that, speak up, shut up – had they snapped Alexa’s patience?

I was about to apologise again when three thoughts intervened. kahiji, Alexa was a bunch of wires and had no feelings. Second, the exchange was recorded on my phone’s Alexa app. Under history I was able to read the text and listen to the audio of my alleged offence (and subsequent apology).

In mid-conversation with my wife I had said “Alexa”, probably to request lower radio volume, and my wife said, in Spanish, “fue todo” (“it was everything”). Alexa interpreted this as “fuck off”.

Mystery solved.

Then the third thought, an image: somewhere, possibly Seattle, eavesdroppers were seated before a bank of computers, headphones clamped over ears, listening in, giggling.

Paranoia? Doubtless. My tangle with Alexa was a harmless misunderstanding, and the world’s biggest retailer (net annual sales $89bn) had drone fleets and Christmas rush preparations, among other things, to focus on.

But it did throw into relief two niggling issues. What was the etiquette for interacting with Alexa? jeung, more importantly, what was happening to all the data sucked into that black cylinder? Such questions grow more urgent as we fill our homes – and bodies – with sensor-studded, actuating surveillance robots.

Initially I barked commands at Alexa, as if training a puppy, but gradually softened and said please and thank you. Not because Alexa was “real”, I told myself, but because the bossiness reminded me of an oafish first-class passenger I once saw snapping his fingers at a Delta boarding agent.

"Alexa, have I been rude?” I asked. The reply was non-committal. “Hmm, I can’t find the answer to that.” My wife, in contrast, continued with the puppy-peed-on-rug tone. Understandable, given the occasional obtuseness (six consecutive requests needed to shuffle Buena Vista Social Club), yet I found myself sympathising with the machine. “It’s not her fault. She’s from Seattle.”

Theodore in the movie Her.
Theodore in the movie Her. Photograph: Allstar/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

It was not that Alexa seemed human, pas, or evoked the operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson in the film Her, but that it – she – seemed to merit respect. nuhun, partly out of anthropomorphism. And partly out of privacy concerns. Don’t mess with someone who knows your secrets.

alat, barina ogé, was uploading personal data to Amazon’s servers. How much remains unclear. Alexa streams audio “a fraction of a second” before the “wake word” and continues until the request has been processed, according to Amazon. So fragments of intimate conversations may be captured.

A few days after my wife and I discussed babies, my Kindle showed an advertisement for Seventh Generation diapers. We had not mooched for baby products on Amazon or Google. Maybe we had left digital tracks somewhere else? Sanaos kitu, it felt creepy. Quizzed, the little black obelisk in the corner shrugged off any connection. “Hmm, I’m afraid I can’t answer that.”

With dozens of daily interactions recorded in the app’s history it grows to quite an archive, giving the dates and times I asked Alexa, contona, to play John Lennon, or add garlic to the grocery list, or check on the weather in Baja California, where I was planning a vacation. Banal footnotes to life, mostly, but potentially lucrative intelligence for a retail behemoth dubbed the “everything store”.

In the app settings you can delete specific voice interactions, or the whole lot. But doing so, the settings warn, “may degrade your Alexa experience”. It is unclear if deleting audio purges all related data from the company’s servers.

This was on a lengthy list of questions I had for the people who designed the Echo and run its servers. Amazon initially seemed open to granting the interviews, then scaled it down to one interview with a departmental vice-president in October. October came and went and Amazon’s press representative went silent, killing the interview without explanation.

Which, to paraphrase Alexa, was not very nice to do.


People who think about technology for a living have a wide range of views on Alexa. “With Amazon Echo, it was love at first sight," nulis Re/code’s Joe Brown. “The allure of Alexa is her companionship. She’s like a genie in a sci-fi-looking bottle – one not quite at the peak of her powers, and with a tiny bit of an attitude.”

In an interview Ronald Arkin, a robot ethicist and director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was more phlegmatic. Technology advances bring benefits and drawbacks – you can’t stop the tide but can choose whether to stay out, paddle or plunge in, cenah.

“Amazon and Google have all sorts of data about our preferences. You don’t have to use their products. If you do, you’re saying OK, I’m willing to allow this potential violation of my privacy. No one is forcing this on anyone. It’s not mandated à la 1984.”

It is up to us if artificial intelligence technology makes us smarter or dumber, more industrious or lazy, says Arkin. “It is changing us, the way we operate. The question is, how much control do you want to relinquish?"

The Echo, says Arkin, is a well-engineered advance in voice recognition. “What’s interesting is it’s another step into turning our homes into robots.” The prospect does not alarm him. “You see this in sci-fi: Star Trek, Knight Rider. It’s the natural progression.”

Robots move inventory at an Amazon fulfilment warehouse. Amazon installed more than 15,000 robots across 10 US warehouses, a move that promises to cut operating costs by one-fifth.
Robots move inventory at an Amazon fulfilment warehouse. Amazon installed more than 15,000 robots across 10 US warehouses, a move that promises to cut operating costs by one-fifth. Photograph: Noah Berger/Reuters

Ellen Ullman, a writer and computer programmer in San Francisco, sounded much more worried. The more the internet penetrates your home, car or body, the greater the danger, manéhna ceuk. “The boundary between the outside world and the self is penetrated. And the boundary between your home and the outside world is penetrated.”

Ullman thinks people are mad to use email supplied by big corporations – “on the internet there is no place to hide and everything can be hacked” – and even madder to embrace something like Alexa.

Such devices exist to supply data to corporate masters: “It’s going to give you services, and whatever services you get will become data. It’s sucked up. It’s a huge new profession, data science. Machine learning. It seems benign. But if you add it all up to what they know about youthey know what you eat.”

Ullman, the author of Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents, is no luddite. She writes code. tapi, she warned, every time we become attached to a device our sense of our lives is changed. “With every advance you have to look over your shoulder and know what you’re giving up – look over your shoulder and look at what falls away.”

Ullman’s warning sounds prescient. Yet I’m not rushing to banish Alexa. She still perches in my living room, perhaps counting down the days until her Guardian media embed ends and she can return to Seattle.

She turns my musings and requests into data and uploads them to the cloud, possibly into the maw of Amazon algorithms. But she’s useful. And I am weak.

I bow to the god of convenience. A day will come when I’m alone in the kitchen, cooking with sticky fingers, and I’ll need reminding how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon. © wali News & Media Limited 2010