Google uses humans to review Google Assistant queries, report says
Google uses humans to review Google Assistant queries, report says
Well you chose to put that thing in your house
12 July, 2019, 14:27
One of the independent sources who spoke to the publication said he once had to transcribe a recording where he could hear a woman who was in definite distress. Now a fresh controversy has emerged around Google and its Assistant, where the company confirms doing the very same - but there's still no need to worry.
VRT NWS managed to gain access to more than a thousand audio excerpts recorded by Google Assistant in Belgium and the Netherlands.
How and why voice-reliant devices record customer queries has been a hot-button issue this year. Other snippets included sex and pillow talk, fights, and professional phone calls packed with private information. "Hiring people from around the world means the company's "speech technology works for a wide variety of languages, accents and dialects", thus "[enabling] products like the Google Assistant to understand your request, whether you're speaking English or Hindi".
Some of the recordings also contain health data and this may land Google in trouble, as EU's GDPR mandates explicit consent for collecting such information. But VRT NWS said that 153 of the 1,000 recordings it listened to "were conversations that should never have been recorded and during which the command "OK Google" was clearly not given".
"Language experts review and transcribe a small set of queries to help us better understand those languages", wrote Google product manager David Monsees.
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According to Google, it applies a wide range of safeguards to protect user privacy throughout the entire review process. Following a report on how Amazon's Alexa works, it looks like Google is employing pretty much the same process for improving its algorithms. Google's Home speakers have been caught sending audio clips of their users back to Google to improve its speech recognition software.
Legally questionable: Because Google doesn't inform users that humans review recordings in this way, and thus doesn't seek their explicit consent for the practice, it's quite possible that it could be breaking European Union data protection regulations.
Now playing: Watch this: A faster Google Assistant will help you decide what to.
"Language experts only review around 0.2 percent of all audio snippets". The post adds that no background noise is transcribed by the language experts to maintain privacy.
But sometimes, the human reviewers end up listening to snippets of private conversations-whether they were made via a voice command or accidentally picked up by the Google Home device.
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