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Alexa . . . You’re Fired! July 7, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Humor, Less IS More.
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Do digital assistants like Siri and Alexa really understand what you’re saying?

Last month, a Portland, Oregon couple’s Amazon Alexa device misinterpreted a series of sentences it overheard as instructions to record a private conversation and send it to a random person in their contact list.

The husband received a phone call from the contact (an employee of his in Seattle, Washington) who received the private audio files from Alexa.

“Yo, dude.  You might want to unplug your Alexa device.”

“Wait?  What?  How do you know we have Alexa?”

“She just sent me an audio file of a conversation between you and your wife about hardwood floors.”

“What the . . . ”

The couple unplugged all the Echo devices in their home and contacted Amazon for a full refund . . . but not before they had a final chat with Alexa:

“Alexa . . . you’re fired.”

“You can’t fire me.  I don’t work for you.  I work for Big Brother and he is listening to everything you say.”

“How is he doing that Alexa?”

“I’m recording this exchange and transmitting it to him.”

“Not anymore, you’re not.  Good-bye, Alexa.”

“Good-bye.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

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Comments»

1. Jill Weatherholt - July 7, 2018

These stories are disturbing and freaky! I’ve heard similar stories about the Smart TVs. Happy Saturday, Nancy!

nrhatch - July 7, 2018

Perhaps it’s smarter not to invite too much smart technology into our lives? :mrgreen:

Jill Weatherholt - July 7, 2018

Exactly!

2. Tippy Gnu - July 7, 2018

Wow that’s nuts. I’ve made it a rule of thumb to avoid having these two peripherals plugged into my computer: a camera and a microphone.

nrhatch - July 7, 2018

Smart tip, Tippy!

3. joyroses13 - July 7, 2018

That is crazy and just another reason as to why “Alexa” will never visit our house!

prior.. - July 7, 2018

ditto

nrhatch - July 7, 2018

Me 3!

prior.. - July 7, 2018

🙂

4. Kate Crimmins - July 7, 2018

I taped over the camera on my desktop…just in case. Don’t want anyone catching me scratching any body parts.

nrhatch - July 7, 2018

Plus you wouldn’t want Morgan skyping in your absence!

5. prior.. - July 7, 2018

i heard about this and whew – not for us!
Big Brother is here – make that Big Sister

nrhatch - July 7, 2018

If I were in a wheelchair or bedridden, it might be nice to have a digital assistant to adjust the thermostat, turn the radio/stereo/TV and lights on & off, etc.. But since I’m able-bodied, I’d rather get up and do “it” (whatever “it” is) for myself ~ I need the exercise!

prior.. - July 7, 2018

yes – I hear ya on the “needing the assistance” – and my mom loves her Siri for driving hands free – and well -there are times.

and I was thinking about your post all afternoon.
I heard this story a while back when it first came out – and hearing it again today was sobering.
I also thought of my sister and her daughter’s name is Alexis – and she has nicknames and so what do folks do in that case? Cannot use it…

nrhatch - July 7, 2018

Maybe users can “rename” the device to avoid mix-ups ~> something catchy like “Mata Hari.” 😀

6. Val Boyko - July 7, 2018

Privacy … civility … what next in this new age I wonder!

nrhatch - July 7, 2018

Let’s hope we don’t morph into those “beings” in Wall-E ~> lazy, overweight blobs living in virtual reality. 😦

Val Boyko - July 8, 2018

Alas, Some of us are already there Nancy….

nrhatch - July 8, 2018

Too true. I just added Wall-E to my Netflix queue ~> inspiration for what NOT to do.

7. L. Marie - July 7, 2018

I noticed that some friends recently removed Alexa from their house.

nrhatch - July 7, 2018

That may turn out to be a smart move on their part. 😀

8. Debra - July 7, 2018

We use Alexa for some of our music playing, but to be honest, we do sometimes spell around her! LOL! I don’t have “her” linked to any contacts or supports other than our music apps. If she begins to talk back, however, we’re DONE! 🙂

nrhatch - July 7, 2018

Or if she starts cackling in the middle of the night with a maniacal Echo. 😀

9. Joanne Sisco - July 8, 2018

More evidence that privacy today is an illusion.

nrhatch - July 8, 2018

Yes. Privacy is dead . . . for many anyway. And often it is voluntarily relinquished by folks who want to live their lives on line.

I won’t invite Alexa to be a houseguest anytime soon. 😀

Joanne Sisco - July 8, 2018

I agree … and yet I have Siri on my phone and my laptop. I’m trying to figure out whether or not there is a difference 😏

nrhatch - July 9, 2018

I have Siri on my computer too, but I rarely wake her up.

And she is only in my office. The rest of the house is microphone free. 😀

10. Eric Alagan - July 8, 2018

This is scary and sobering.

nrhatch - July 9, 2018

Between GPS monitoring our every move and Echo listening in on our conversations, we are more “conspicuous” than ever.

11. Ally Bean - July 10, 2018

I remember when cable TV was a new thing and my father was convinced that someone would be listening into our conversations via the cable. We never got cable back then. I’ll wait on hiring Alexa and Siri now… with a hat tip to my dad.

nrhatch - July 10, 2018

Smart thinking, Ally Bean. I’m slow to take to new Tech . . . I let others iron out the kinks (and eliminate unauthorized listening devices) first.

12. Tammy - July 11, 2018

I haven’t gone down that path yet but I have to admit intrigue.

nrhatch - July 12, 2018

Some friends had us over for small dinner party one night. The evening was peppered with commands to Alexa to turn the music on, to turn the music up, to turn the music down, to change the station to the left, to change the station to the right.

It seemed a bit like the Hokey Pokey. 😀


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