Siri on newer iPhones has an ‘always listening‘ feature. Siri listens for the phrase, “Hey, Siri…” then acknowledges with a sound to tell us she is ready for a query or command. I like that. But that means Siri is always listening. Is that a good thing?
Digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are designed to learn more about you as they listen, and part of doing so is to record conversations you’ve had with them to learn your tone of voice, prompts, and requests.
That was the preface for a recent incident where Amazon’s Echo and Alexa combo heard a series of requests in a conversation, recorded the conversation, and sent it to someone in the contacts list.
Anybody see a problem with that?
These always on, always listening personal assistants could cause similar problems or worse by capturing parts of conversations that could be saved for authorities– or, worse, alert authorities to a potential crime.
Garun outlines how to check Alexa’s history on an iPhone, so if you’ve used Alexa you may be surprised at what has been captured to date.
So, here’s the question. “What if Siri recorded every conversation?”
That isn’t likely to happen– at least, not too soon– but it could. Would such captured information be used to make Siri smarter and more useful? Hopefully. Or, would such information raise a few red flags which could alert authorities to potential wrongdoing?
Apple has been raked across the coals for how Siri has not developed as quickly as Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant. Perhaps such slow walking of Siri’s technology is on purpose as Apple tries to determine how and where Siri should fit into our devices, and how much control we give such talking assistants.
As much as it could be beneficial to humankind to have a very smart, always on and always listening talking companion that helps us at every turn through the day, it must be considered downright creepy to record conversations and then share some of those conversations with others– without asking.
Amazon’s Alexa has already done that. I think Apple’s slow walking of Siri’s technology might be discipline more than neglect.