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News Report: Microsoft Contractors Hear Skype, Cortana Recordings

spiketheaardvark

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Apr 14, 2009
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As much I like the idea of voice interation with technology, I'd really prefer it be processed locally. Does voice recognition really need to be processed in the cloud?
 

Math Geek

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considering AI needs a lot of processing power, i don't think it will ever be done locally. you can't pack enough power into your cellphone or pc to handle the needs.

i understand this has to be done in the cloud, but this does not mean, that you should have to give up all privacy expectations to use the service. something like skype though, i don't see any need for there to be any type of record much less it being use like this. that's plain old "cause we can" abuse in my opinion.
 

spiketheaardvark

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I'm not sure that I buy the fact that the voice recognition requires vast amounts of processing. Windows 95 came with a basic speech to text function (though it admittedly sucked) but my 3 year old SSD has more processing power than that machine did. Also my understanding is that the recognition of the initiation command such as "okay google", "siri", "echo" is done locally on the device, and google is trying to do the voice recognition locally on their pixel phones to improve response time.

I do concede that the databases needed to turn commands into actions will likely remain outside of the scale of home computing for some time. But if the CPU time needed was astronomically high it would cost something.

Privacy policies are nice(and US law could use some serious updating) but I'm alway suspicious of other peoples computers.
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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It not just the (substantial) processing power, but also training the AI.

Something was said, Cortana/Alexa/Echo/Siri acted.
Did they get it right?

To know the answer, some human has to listen and evaluate.

"Hey, look at that puppy on the tables...awww..."

Is a whole lot different than

"Hey, look at that puppy on the table saw."
 

DookieDraws

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So, um, they only listen to audio recordings, right? I mean, they don't look at Skype video recordings, do they? Pfffft, not worried or anything, just curious is all. I mean, they don't record our video chats or anything, right? They can't see our video chats and stuff, can they? Not worried or anything, just find it kind of odd is all. Can they see them? Come on, guys. Quit joking around.
 

alextheblue

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listen to ostensibly private conversations today
On a Windows 10 install / first boot on an OEM machine (all recent revisions) you have to go through a privacy page and OK this stuff. You can opt out of this stuff at that time, or at any time later. So there's that.
i understand this has to be done in the cloud, but this does not mean, that you should have to give up all privacy expectations to use the service. something like skype though, i don't see any need for there to be any type of record much less it being use like this. that's plain old "cause we can" abuse in my opinion.
So the Cortana part is already obvious. But if you read carefully you'll notice the Skype part relates to the AI-powered translate feature of Skype. So it's done for the same reasons, they're testing and improving translation.

Either way, see above. If you're opted in and you want out, you can do so. Now, if you're using an Android device, your control is both more limited and their track record is pretty poor. That's why I ended up with an iPhone after I finally wore out my Lumia. Never thought I'd see the day I used an Apple device. The UI is pretty weak but it does phone things and runs the few apps I care about. I replaced/deleted a bunch of stock apps, I use Outlook and OneDrive just for two examples. Oh and apparently iOS 13 finally adds dark mode. Heh...

Stock alarm app is kind of primitive, it fires up the audio at 100% immediately. I got used to the one on W10M starting off quiet and gradually raising the volume. Might have to find an alternative alarm app.
 

DemonicSky

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Oct 25, 2014
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Here's some nice info in case you missed it.

Any private message on Microsoft's forum is readable by any of their contractors. The same goes with any incoming or outgoing mail you send from Outlook.

And contractors in this case, are minimum wage workers, often straight out of school with nonexistent or minimum security checks before being hired.
 

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