Natural Language: AI-Alerts

Congress, Privacy Groups Question Amazon's Echo Dot for Kids


Lawmakers, child development experts, and privacy advocates are expressing concerns about two new Amazon products targeting children, questioning whether they prod kids to be too dependent on technology and potentially jeopardize their privacy. In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday, two members of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus raised concerns about Amazon's smart speaker Echo Dot Kids and a companion service called FreeTime Unlimited that lets kids access a children's version of Alexa, Amazon's voice-controlled digital assistant. "While these types of artificial intelligence and voice recognition technology offer potentially new educational and entertainment opportunities, Americans' privacy, particularly children's privacy, must be paramount," wrote Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas), both cofounders of the privacy caucus. The letter includes a dozen questions, including requests for details about how audio of children's interactions is recorded and saved, parental control over deleting recordings, a list of third parties with access to the data, whether data will be used for marketing purposes, and Amazon's intentions on maintaining a profile on kids who use these products. Echo Dot Kids is the latest in a wave of products from dominant tech players targeting children, including Facebook's communications app Messenger Kids and Google's YouTube Kids, both of which have been criticized by child health experts concerned about privacy and developmental issues.

The creepiest Amazon Alexa stories ever


The Amazon Echo with Alexa is great, but it can act a little funny sometimes. These are Ranker's best stories involving Alexa. A link has been sent to your friend's email address. A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. The Amazon Echo with Alexa is great, but it can act a little funny sometimes.

Investment in artificial intelligence is essential for our future health


Artificial intelligence may still be in its infancy, but it's moving fast. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the data-rich health sector. AI has the potential to provide more precise, personalised care, as well as help us to shift our focus from treatment to prevention and tackle some of the world's biggest global health issues. The WHO estimates that achieving the health-related targets under the Sustainable Development Goals – from ending tuberculosis to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services by 2030 – will cost between $134bn-$371bn (£97bn-£270bn) a year over current health spending. AI startups raised $15.2bn last year alone, adding to investments made by tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Alibaba and a host of research institutions.

Amazon's Alexa Will Help Kids Learn Manners


Amazon has updated the software so that now if a kid asks Alexa to do something with a "please" attached she'll say "thanks for asking nicely."

How to Build Custom Alexa Skills for the Amazon Echo


When Amazon first introduced developer tools that let people build stuff for Alexa, the company made a conscious decision to call these functions "skills" rather than apps. It was a subtle way of making Alexa seem capable, and also, suggesting to developers that building these skills would be a low lift. With just a "few lines of code," Amazon promised, "you can build entirely new experiences designed around voice." Amazon says most Echo users in the US have tried these third-party skills at least once, but getting them to work can be tricky. Alexa's voice skills often require super specific queries, and until Amazon started paying attention to the discovery process, taking the time to find new skills felt like a non-essential burden. Now, Amazon has decided to make Alexa's skills all about you: your dad jokes, your homework, your birthday.

Is Your Company Ready To Invest in AI?


Neither example cited by Gualtieri is science fiction-worthy, but techniques like natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning have the potential to help companies save time and improve operations on a massive scale. That's not conjecture: A client once leveraged NLP to parse thousands of customer support inquiries and online reviews for information about the most critical issues facing its product, eliminating hundreds of hours spent on manual searches. The improvements the company made based on that information resulted in a 500-point increase in net promoter score.

Amazon files for Alexa patent to let it listen to people all the time and work out what they want

The Independent

The Amazon Alexa of the future could be listening to you all the time – and building up a detailed picture of what you want to buy. That's the suggestion of a patent filed by the company that details the idea of'voice-sniffing' technology. Such software would allow the device to eavesdrop on conversations and analyse them, feeding that into a database for ads. At the moment, Amazon's Echo products are hardwired so they will only listen to users when they say the "Alexa" wake word. Amazon has denied that it uses voice recordings for advertising at the moment, and said that the patent might never actually come to the market.

Stop griping about Siri and get Apple's iPhone assistant to work better


Now available, Apple's smart speaker has integrated Siri support, so wake it up and ask a question or give a command. You probably know about Siri's funny responses to questions like "What's the meaning of life?" or "Are you alive?" And you may have complained when the assistant stumbles or can't follow your question. Spoiler alert: This column won't show you how to make Siri fault-proof. But it will help you get more out of it, particularly when you're in situations where you couldn't or shouldn't be using your hands.

U.S. Congressional Panels Probe Whether Russia Got Facebook Data: Sources

U.S. News

Among the issues investigators on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are digging into are whether IRA and other Russian organizations used any Facebook data, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Also, whether the use of such data had any impact on the U.S. election, and how much Facebook data may have been acquired by Russian entities, the sources said.