Amazon Alexa



  • A colleague from work has had an Amazon Alexa for a few months and thinks it's the bees knees. From what he is telling me about it, I'm nearly convinced to buy one.

    Any of you folk have this set up? Did you buy an expensive speaker system or the cheaper one?

    IF you have one, what do you use it for each day?



  • @hooroo bought the missus one and she basically just uses it for streaming crap music. The occasional weather forecast. Might be nice to link it all up to smart bulbs, heating etc but we're prolly gonna move so can't be arsed.

    She tells great jokes.



  • @bones said in Amazon Alexa:

    @hooroo bought the missus one and she basically just uses it for streaming crap music. The occasional weather forecast. Might be nice to link it all up to smart bulbs, heating etc but we're prolly gonna move so can't be arsed.

    She tells great jokes.

    Smart Bulbs?



  • @hooroo light bulbs...

    I have a really good boomerang joke but I've forgotten it.

    It'll come back to me.

    She, she's deadly.



  • @bones said in Amazon Alexa:

    @hooroo light bulbs...

    I have a really good boomerang joke but I've forgotten it.

    It'll come back to me.

    She, she's deadly.

    Take my money!!!



  • Alexa is no substitute for Aura.



  • They seem to be a popular addition to kitchens, so you can start timers or ask for measurement conversions without using your hands if they are dirty/occupied.

    Lots of extensions you can install to link to other services/applications.

    Amazon wants you to use it to order things, say like "Alexa add butter to my shopping list" and they deliver your goriceries. Stuff like that.



  • I'm uncomfortable with having Amazon listen in to all my conversations.



  • @kirwan said in Amazon Alexa:

    They seem to be a popular addition to kitchens, so you can start timers or ask for measurement conversions without using your hands if they are dirty/occupied.

    Lots of extensions you can install to link to other services/applications.

    Amazon wants you to use it to order things, say like "Alexa add butter to my shopping list" and they deliver your goriceries. Stuff like that.

    To tell you the truth that was a selling point for me, just saying what I needed added to grocery list etc when in the kitchen. I would also use when cooking whole cuts of meat to get internal temp recommendations.

    @antipodean that sort of thing doesn't bother me as I'm just a nobody amongst billions, I don't think they will be interested in my general chit chat



  • @hooroo

    You undervalue yourself. Amazon is what amazon is because it has managed to get people to pay for its services while also getting some of the most valuable information about them (what they want to buy).



  • @gt12 said in Amazon Alexa:

    @hooroo

    You undervalue yourself. Amazon is what amazon is because it has managed to get people to pay for its services while also getting some of the most valuable information about them (what they want to buy).

    But that's useful to me.

    I have never purchased anything from Amazon before. I probably would if prompted towards something I wanted/needed



  • That's how Amazon, Facebook and Google make their billions; people voluntarily giving up information to be easier to market to.

    There's two legitimate concerns:

    • what information am I giving them I'd prefer to keep to my household and how might this come back to bite me
    • what are they going to withhold to ensure I use their services more.


  • @hooroo

    No doubt it's useful.

    Just remember to turn it off if you go on a murderous rampage (link)



  • @antipodean said in Amazon Alexa:

    That's how Amazon, Facebook and Google make their billions; people voluntarily giving up information to be easier to market to.

    There's two legitimate concerns:

    • what information am I giving them I'd prefer to keep to my household and how might this come back to bite me
    • what are they going to withhold to ensure I use their services more.

    They aren't legitimate concerns for me.

    If in the future it comes back to bite, then more fool me, otherwise, my lifestyle is reasonably simple.

    Work, Horse Racing, Fishing, Golf and socialising. That's pretty much the guts of it.



  • @hooroo said in Amazon Alexa:

    @antipodean said in Amazon Alexa:

    That's how Amazon, Facebook and Google make their billions; people voluntarily giving up information to be easier to market to.

    There's two legitimate concerns:

    • what information am I giving them I'd prefer to keep to my household and how might this come back to bite me
    • what are they going to withhold to ensure I use their services more.

    They aren't legitimate concerns for me.

    If in the future it comes back to bite, then more fool me, otherwise, my lifestyle is reasonably simple.

    Work, Horse Racing, Fishing, Golf and socialising. That's pretty much the guts of it.

    You forgot sending dick picks. Or is that what you kids call "socialising" these days.



  • @no-quarter said in Amazon Alexa:

    @hooroo said in Amazon Alexa:

    @antipodean said in Amazon Alexa:

    That's how Amazon, Facebook and Google make their billions; people voluntarily giving up information to be easier to market to.

    There's two legitimate concerns:

    • what information am I giving them I'd prefer to keep to my household and how might this come back to bite me
    • what are they going to withhold to ensure I use their services more.

    They aren't legitimate concerns for me.

    If in the future it comes back to bite, then more fool me, otherwise, my lifestyle is reasonably simple.

    Work, Horse Racing, Fishing, Golf and socialising. That's pretty much the guts of it.

    You forgot sending dick picks. Or is that what you kids call "socialising" these days.

    Ha ha! No Face NO FACE!!! 🙂



  • @hooroo said in Amazon Alexa:

    @no-quarter said in Amazon Alexa:

    @hooroo said in Amazon Alexa:

    @antipodean said in Amazon Alexa:

    That's how Amazon, Facebook and Google make their billions; people voluntarily giving up information to be easier to market to.

    There's two legitimate concerns:

    • what information am I giving them I'd prefer to keep to my household and how might this come back to bite me
    • what are they going to withhold to ensure I use their services more.

    They aren't legitimate concerns for me.

    If in the future it comes back to bite, then more fool me, otherwise, my lifestyle is reasonably simple.

    Work, Horse Racing, Fishing, Golf and socialising. That's pretty much the guts of it.

    You forgot sending dick picks. Or is that what you kids call "socialising" these days.

    Ha ha! No Face NO FACE!!! 🙂

    not your face anyway



  • @antipodean said in Amazon Alexa:

    I'm uncomfortable with having Amazon listen in to all my conversations.

    It doesn't do that, it listens locally for an activation phrase then doesn't give up any more information than a google search.

    Think about the data storage you would need for millions of these recording anything it hears in a house. It's not practical, nor is any of the information useful. The searches are useful, and the data about what you buy is useful.

    Or do you have burner accounts when you buy anything online?



  • @kirwan said in Amazon Alexa:

    It doesn't do that, it listens locally for an activation phrase then doesn't give up any more information than a google search.

    Then it's different to Google which is always listening because the mathematical odds that Google can come up with the very thing I'm talking about when typing a few letters into the search bar on my phone are astronomically against it.

    That's before acknowledging that false positives exist.

    Or do you have burner accounts when you buy anything online?

    I have, but it's a simple data matching exercise when you look at the delivery address and name.

    I don't think it's paranoia when Zuckerburg and Chamath Palihapitiya won't use Facebook, just recognition that if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.



  • @antipodean said in Amazon Alexa:

    @kirwan said in Amazon Alexa:

    It doesn't do that, it listens locally for an activation phrase then doesn't give up any more information than a google search.

    Then it's different to Google which is always listening because the mathematical odds that Google can come up with the very thing I'm talking about when typing a few letters into the search bar on my phone are astronomically against it.

    That's before acknowledging that false positives exist.

    Or do you have burner accounts when you buy anything online?

    I have, but it's a simple data matching exercise when you look at the delivery address and name.

    I don't think it's paranoia when Zuckerburg and Chamath Palihapitiya won't use Facebook, just recognition that if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.

    You are jumping around all over the place, Google, Facebook and Amazon are not the same thing.

    Are you taking about typing a search into an Android phone? If so, there is a simple reason why that's not always listening to you - battery life. The phone would last an hour if it was doing that.

    There is potential that it's parsing what you are saying from when you pick up the phone, but I don't see the harm in that, especially if it delivers a more accurate search.

    I really hate that glib "you are the product" line. Google is an advertising company, no different in many ways to a Television station. They serve ads, and the more they know about you the more they can tailor the ads. No deep dark secret there.

    With Amazon, the interaction is even clearer. They want to sell you goods and services, so their information gathering is around predicting what you would like. Again, very transparent.

    Facebook is where I start to agree with you. Although I don't agree with your point about Zuckerberg not using it, if I was CEO and my employees had access to personal information I wouldn't use it much either.

    Facebook have been caught lying about why they gather information, and how they use it. Down to selling you and your friends phone numbers, or performing psychological tests on users without permission (the list goes on, they even used profile pictures in ads). Easy and completely valid to not trust them with any data.



  • @kirwan said in Amazon Alexa:

    You are jumping around all over the place, Google, Facebook and Amazon are not the same thing.

    At the macro they are.

    Are you taking about typing a search into an Android phone? If so, there is a simple reason why that's not always listening to you - battery life. The phone would last an hour if it was doing that.
    There is potential that it's parsing what you are saying from when you pick up the phone, but I don't see the harm in that, especially if it delivers a more accurate search.

    It goes like this: talk about something, retrieve phone from pocket, type a few letters and hey presto, first predictive text response.

    I really hate that glib "you are the product" line. Google is an advertising company, no different in many ways to a Television station. They serve ads, and the more they know about you the more they can tailor the ads. No deep dark secret there.

    I see it as different because we know they tailor their responses and data match from disparate sources. Often without expressly informing users so they an consent before using the service.

    With Amazon, the interaction is even clearer. They want to sell you goods and services, so their information gathering is around predicting what you would like. Again, very transparent.

    I disagree that it's transparent because they're deliberately coy about the information they collect, how they use it and for how long they keep it. Besides, there's no need to predict what I'd like, I'll type it and refine my search as required.



  • I really disagree that they are the same at all, but agree to disagree.

    If your phone scenerio was true, it would be easily provable and there would be so many lawsuits in the states it wouldn't be funny. And, as I said, there is no way it can be aways listening and have any kind of decent battery life.

    I've seen explanations in the past that they are using pretty amazing algorithms (and more personal data than you expect) to predict your searches.

    People have been trying to prove these devices are always listening for years, and no smoking gun so far.

    As for the value in the predictive features, thats open and shut. It's extremely useful, and generally like it. It hovers the creepy line though, I agree, but mostly because people assume it's been listening and freak out. Machine learning is pretty powerful for this sort of stuff.

    As for the transparancy, I think it's pretty clear what Google and Amazone use our data for. And with the new privacy regulations from Europe it's never been clearer.



  • Just ask Alexa if she does bumpity grind with Siri



  • It's entirely possible that my googling is merely symptomatic of cognitive bias. It works so well every time I see it it reinforces my perception of its unerring accuracy. I don't discount that possibility. I still don't like it.

    And that's from someone that's worked on data matching and prediction for Sate and Federal government. It's disturbing what we can do these days and that's without their data stores and lack of legislative restriction.



  • @antipodean said in Amazon Alexa:

    It's entirely possible that my googling is merely symptomatic of cognitive bias. It works so well every time I see it it reinforces my perception of its unerring accuracy. I don't discount that possibility. I still don't like it.

    And that's from someone that's worked on data matching and prediction for Sate and Federal government. It's disturbing what we can do these days.

    Yep, the creepy line is a valid concern. I had a relative that worked in magazine advertising, the stuff I got told about those bloody store cards was eye opening.

    We are way more predictable that we like to think, and with the many various data sources available, which are easily linked to us individually, there is a huge potential for misuse.

    I just want to focus on that side of it, and not lose the benefits of the technology along the way because of FUD. The latest Facebook scandal, for example.



  • Sam Harris interviewed a guy right up on all this in Sam's podcast.
    One bit he mentioned being in a targetrd marketing meeting and the revelations that the data could determine an individual's health and track such things as menstrual cycles.



  • @siam said in Amazon Alexa:

    Sam Harris interviewed a guy right up on all this in Sam's podcast.
    One bit he mentioned being in a targetrd marketing meeting and the revelations that the data could determine an individual's health and track such things as menstrual cycles.

    Yep, can also pick if someone is pregnant.



  • Perhaps I should post this here:

    Alexa, Who Has Access to My Data? Amazon Reveals Private Voice Data Files

    In August 2018, amazon.de customer Martin Schneider (not his real name) used these rights to ask Amazon to release the personal data it has on file about him. A couple of months later, Schneider was sent a download link to a 100MB ZIP file. About 50 of the zipped files contained data relating to everyday things like Amazon searches, but there were also around 1,700 WAV files and a PDF cataloging unsorted transcripts of Alexa’s interpretations of his voice commands. Schneider was extremely surprised to find these files as he doesn’t use Alexa and doesn’t own any Alexa-enabled devices. He listened to some random sample files but didn’t recognize any of the voices they contained.


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