Amazon has a team of thousands of people around the world who listen to voice recordings from the company's smart speakers to try and improve how Alexa responds to commands, Bloomberg reported.
The report said the team transcribes and annotates recordings that have been captured from Echo speakers after the wake word is detected from the customer's device.
Users can tell when a wake word is detected because the light ring at the top of the Echo turns blue
“By default, Echo devices are designed to detect only your chosen wake word (Alexa, Amazon, Computer or Echo)," an Amazon spokesperson said. The device detects the wake word by identifying acoustic patterns that match the wake word. No audio is stored or sent to the cloud unless the device detects the wake word (or Alexa is activated by pressing a button."
Two people who worked on the program told Bloomberg that employees sometimes review up to 1,000 audio clips during a nine hour shift. One of the workers told Bloomberg each person transcribes as many as 100 recordings a day when Alexa was triggered by accident or without any wake-up command.
The team is made up of full-time Amazon employees and contractors who work from offices all around the globe including in Boston, Costa Rica, India and Romania, Bloomberg said.
An Amazon spokesman said in response that they "take the security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously” and they "only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order [to] improve the customer experience."
Amazon emphasized in its statement to Bloomberg that the employees don't have direct access to information to be able to identify the person or account where the recording came from.