Alexa’s human ears 2020 New Technology

New jobs at Amazon: Alexa’s human ears

Temporary workers in Poland help to improve Alexa’s speech recognition. These jobs are not without problems.


Don’t be rude to Alexa – a real person might hear youPhoto: ap

Did you ever get loud when Alexa didn’t do what you wanted? If it is only a device, you will think, but nothing there. Because, as several media reports show, Google , Apple and Amazon employ human employees to improve their speech recognition. They listen to and record transcriptions of the voice commands. So one or the other curse that you directed Alexa might have already been transcribed.

This not only raises questions about data protection : the evaluation of records by people is another example of how work is changing through digitization and machine learning. The good news: digitization not only eats jobs, it also creates new ones. But what are these jobs?

As research by the Welt am Sonntag revealed Amazon employs temporary workers * inside in Poland for the evaluation of the recordings. The company Randstad Poland had job vacancies online until Friday, in which Polish employees with German language skills were looked for on the mother tongue level. It is reasonable to assume that Amazon would like to save. This would of course not make Amazon the first company to let employees work for them anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, the example shows that the life of digital nomads is not only sipping cocktails on the beach .

Even if the data is anonymized, the employees sometimes have involuntary access to the privacy of Amazon customers. One of the reasons for this is that the voice assistants repeatedly switch on incorrectly. This is not only problematic for customers. This can also be stressful for the listeners. So marked two employees * inside the media company Bloomberg , they have heard in the recordings, which like a sexual assault sounded.

At Bloomberg’s request, Amazon said it had mechanisms in place for such cases. However, two Romanian employees said Amazon had said in a similar case that the company was not responsible. A request from taz, how employees are accompanied when they hear questionable content, remained unanswered.

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