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Employees can listen to Google Assistant records


Rachel Lerman, Associated Press

Published Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 22:01 EDT

San Francisco – Google contractors regularly listen to and review the records of what people are talking about the artificial intelligence system of Google Assistant, through their phone or through smart speakers, such as the Google homepage.

The company recognized that people can access these records after some of its Dutch sound fragments have been impregnated. Google Product Manager David Monzes acknowledged a blog leak on Thursday and claimed that the company was investigating a violation.

"We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent such illegitimate behavior again," he wrote.

Over 1,000 entries were received by the Belgian VRT NWS channel, which noted in its history that some contain sensitive personal conversations as well as information that identifies a person. Google says that user account information is not related to records, and that reviewers do not rewrite background conversations.

But VRT reporters could hear spoken home addresses in some records and could track speakers. Some of these conversations were not directed at an assistant and occurred either as background noise, or as a false note, when the assistant thought that he was talking to him but was not.

Google says contractors are listening to records to better understand language patterns and accents. The terms of the user confirm that the records can be used by the company, stating that the helper "records voice and audio on Google services to improve speech recognition."

Monsice wrote that Google is working with contractors around the world to analyze the records.

"These language experts review and write a small set of queries that will help us better understand these languages," he wrote.

Google's terms do not explicitly say that people are reviewing entries, but argue that data can be analyzed as company upgrade services or create new features.

The company acknowledged earlier this year that its reviewers are listening to anonymous records in response to the Bloomberg report, which shows that Alexa Amazon also uses contractors to listen to records. Amazon confirmed the report.

You can turn off the Google Recording feature, but this means the helper is losing some of his personalized touch. People who turn off the recording function lose the ability for the helper to recognize individual voices and learn your voice pattern.

Assistant recording is actually disabled by default – but technology encourages users to turn on recording and other tools for personalized features.

Google Assistant is available on more than 1 billion devices, including smartphones and smart speakers. It did pretty impressive on the intelligent speaker market – still the main place where people use voice technology – but still traces behind Amazon.

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