There was a recent tabloid piece featuring a video of a woman asking Alexa if it was connected to the CIA. At the time, the Echo Dot she was speaking to did not respond to the question. She asked a few times, and each time the Echo was silent. Conspiracy theorists weighed in. It was an amusing video, but the Daily Mail’s clickbait headline raises a legitimate question: Can Alexa lie?
You can turn a microwave into a camera and I’ll teach you how in a minute, but before I do, let me share this news item. In a recent interview with a reporter from the Bergen Record, Kellyanne Conway was asked about surveillance. She responded: “There are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately. There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.”
If you let your imagination run wild in the world of automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU), and you throw in a little fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD), you can come up with several illegal uses for systems such as Alexa Voice Service, Google Home, Siri, and Cortana that will give you pause. Just for fun, let’s play pretend in our world of infinite possibilities.
Unless you turn off the microphones and use a button or a remote, Alexa Voice Service and other IVCSs are always listening. Let me be the first to scream … "Look out!"
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