(Jazz Shaw – Hot Air) Continuing with our ongoing investigation into What The Heck Are These Newfangled Machines Up To, an interesting story popped up last week involving the Amazon digital assistant known as Alexa. One family in Oregon ran into an unexpected and potentially embarrassing situation after discovering that Alexa was far more interested in what they were talking about than they’d originally imagined. Even more alarming was the fact that she was pretty proactive about it too. …
I doubt I’m the only one who has noticed that our smart devices wind up “listening” to us more often than advertised and that was the case with this couple. What really takes the story to the next level is the fact that Alexa was not only listening but recording the conversation. And then she mailed it to one of their contacts in Seattle. This is straight out of a SKYNET story. (Associated Press)
An “unlikely” string of events prompted Amazon’s Echo personal assistant device to record a Portland, Oregon, family’s private conversation and then send the recording to an acquaintance in Seattle, the company said Thursday.
The woman told KIRO-TV that two weeks ago an employee of her husband contacted them to say he thought their device had been hacked. He told them he had received an audio file of them discussing hardwood floors, she said.
In a statement Thursday, Amazon confirmed the woman’s private conversation had been inadvertently recorded and sent.
Of course, Amazon is blaming it on an “unlikely series of events.” Supposedly, the couple was having a discussion about some mundane, household topic and Alexa thought she heard them say her name, prompting the device to wake up and start listening. (And apparently recording.) Alexa then made another mistake, thinking that one of the homeowners had said something sounding like “send message.” The company claims that Alexa then said aloud, “To whom?” Not hearing her, the couple then supposedly said something which sounded to Alexa like a name on their contact list.