First, look at what Amazon is by following the money trail. Amazon sells everything from A to Z and in between, so the company has a vested interest in gathering information about you. How? By selling cute little gadgets that listen and talk. It doesn’t take Amazon long to know all about you, thanks to the sweet voiced Alexa that lives within many of Amazon’s own technology products; specifically the Echo devices.
How is it that Alexa and the Echo devices are sneaky? They work in a way somewhat similar to Google and Facebook. Google gives you free apps to use, meanwhile each free app gathers ever more information about you which the search engine giant sells to advertisers. Facebook gives you free access to friends, news, videos, viral information, photos, all in exchange for tracking you, gather information about you, and serving up ever more advertisements to separate you from your money.
Yes, that’s sneaky and most people who use Google apps and Facebook have no idea it’s going on. It is. And it’s big business.
Amazon is somewhat different in that the company is much like a giant department store that sells almost anything you can think of to unsuspecting customers. Amazon is one of the internet’s largest advertisers and one of the largest at gathering customer data. Yes, some of that effort is the old fashioned way, but Echo and Alexa make it sneaky because we pay money to let them into our homes so they can listen to, capture information about us, and serve up ever more ads which entice us to buy more products.
Where’s the Sneaky part?
Amazon’s Echo Alexa combo are always listening to what we say and do and capturing that information. Now, Alexa has so-called voice profiles so it knows who is talking and can deliver responses that are personalized to everyone in your household.
That sounds cool but really is state of the art sneakiness. Now Amazon knows the voices of everyone else in the family, and it gathers ever more information about each one. Alexa needs to have each voice user repeat 10 different phrases and that data gets stored in Amazon’s cloud for later use.
To be completely honest, I think I appreciate Apple’s privacy regarding Siri a little more after learning what Alexa does with those voices it stores. Maybe someday in the near future, perhaps after Apple’s HomePod hits the market and the company doubles down on Siri’s artificial intelligence Siri will know who we are by our distinct voices. That’s not so bad if Apple doesn’t try to sell us ever more products. I have enough Apple logos in my house already.