One of the biggest issues people have with Amazon’s Alexa is the fact that it’s constantly eavesdropping in on your life. Think about it, how does the device know when you’re calling its name if it’s not constantly listening in on your conversations?
For all the disbelievers, this story proves just how aware Alexa is of everything you say and do. The Huffington Post published a crazy story where a private conversation between a couple in Oregon was recorded by Alexa and sent to a random contact from their phones. Because the device got confused and thought it heard that command.
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KIRO TV spoke with Danielle, one of the owners of the faulty Alexa, who said that she’d had her suspicions about the device who also handled their house’s security, heat and lights. “My husband and I would joke and say ‘I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying,” she said. A few weeks ago, a coworker of her husband called them and said that they had to unplug their Alexa because they’d been hacked. He’d received a recording of a private conversation of the couple, where they were talking about hardwood floors. Luckily the conversation wasn’t scandalous.
The couple contacted Amazon for an explanation, and an Alexa representative began to investigate the issue. Amazon was transparent, claiming that their engineers were able to see the problem thanks to Alexa’s conversation logs. They issued the following confusing statement:
Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like ‘Alexa.’ Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a “send message” request. At which point, Alexa said out loud “To whom?” At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. “Alexa then asked out loud, ”[contact name], right?” Alexa then interpreted background conversation as “right”. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”
While this statement isn’t the least bit reassuring, Amazon apologized to their customers repeatedly, claiming that the incident was extremely unlikely. Their Alexa device simply went crazy.
In the scheme of things it was pretty harmless, and this is a pretty amazing story to add to the roster of “weird things Alexa has done.” At least this family can rest easy now; it’s better to have a faulty Alexa than to be hacked, right?