Welcome!

Adobe Flex Authors: Matthew Lobas, PR.com Newswire, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Mobile IoT, Cloud Security

@ThingsExpo: Blog Feed Post

Just How Dangerous Is Alexa? | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #Security

Unless you turn off the mics & use a button or a remote, IVCSs are always listening. Let me be the first to scream ‘Look out!’

The “willing suspension of disbelief” is the idea that the audience (readers, viewers, content consumers) is willing to suspend judgment about the implausibility of the narrative for the quality of the audience’s own enjoyment. We do it all the time. Two-dimensional video on our screens is smaller than life and flat and not in real time, but we ignore those facts and immerse ourselves in the stories as if they were real.

We have also learned the “conventions” of each medium. While we watch a movie or a video, we don’t yell to the characters on the screen “Duck!” or “Look out!” when something is about to happen to them. We just passively enjoy the show.

The Willing Suspension of Our Privacy
We apply similar concepts to our online lives. Most of us are willing to give up our data (location, viewing, purchasing or search history) for our online enjoyment. We can call this the “willing suspension of our privacy” because if you spent a moment to consider what your data was actually being used for, you would refuse to let it happen.

The Willing Suspension of Our Agency
Which brings us to the next level of insanity: the willing suspension of our agency for our own enjoyment. This is past the point of giving up a “reasonable amount” of data or privacy to optimize the capabilities of our digital assistants. Suspension of our agency exposes our normally unmonitored physical activity, innocent mumblings and sequestered conversations. Some people believe this is happening with Alexa, Google Home, Siri and other virtual assistant and IoT systems. It may well be.

First, Let’s Give It a Name
Since we are discussing a combination of automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) engines that enable a system to instantly recognize and respond to voice requests, for this article, let’s call the interface an intelligent voice control system (IVCS).

How It Works
You activate most commercial IVCSs with a “wake word.” For an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, you can choose one of three possible wake words, “Alexa” (the default), “Amazon” or “Echo.” Unless you turn off the microphones (the Echo has seven) and use a mechanical button or remote control to activate its capabilities, Alexa Voice Service, the system that powers the Echo and Alexa, and other IVCSs are always listening for their wake word.

In Amazon’s case, it keeps approximately 60 seconds of audio in memory for pre-processing so the responses can be situationally aware and “instant.” Amazon says the listening is done locally, on the device, not in the cloud. So technically, the audio does not leave the premises.

Always Listening Does Not Mean Always Transmitting
Yes, an IVCS is always listening AND recording. Which raises the question, “What does it do with the recordings it does not use?” In Amazon’s case, the official answer is that they are erased as they are replaced with the most current 60 seconds. So while the system locally stores approximately 60 seconds of audio preceding your wake word, it transmits only a “fraction of a second” of audio preceding your wake word, plus your actual query and the system’s response. For Alexa, you can find a record of your query on the Home screen of your Alexa app.

More Questions
What happens to the approximately 60 seconds of audio recording preceding a wake word? The one that has a recording of the TV soundtrack, footsteps, the loud argument in the next room, the gunshot, etc.? What happens with that audio? Again, Amazon says it is erased and replaced with the next 60 seconds of audio. Skeptics say if a wake word is detected, the previous 60-ish seconds of audio is put in a database for further IVCS training. If so, could that audio be subpoenaed? Yep! Just like your browser history or phone records. It’s just data. But does it actually exist? Amazon says no. As for other systems? We’ll have to ask.

What About Hackers?
Seven microphones! Could a hacker tap into one or all of them and eavesdrop on me? The official answer is no, and specific technical reasons are cited. However, at The Palmer Group we have several theses for 2017 including, “Anything that can be hacked will be hacked.” Anyone who believes otherwise is simply naïve.

“It’s the Profile, Stupid!”
Data is more powerful in the presence of other data. It is an immutable law of 21st-century living, which in this case means that the most serious threat to each of us is the profile that can be created with the willing suspension of our agency.

Most people have no idea how much information about them is available for sale. The willing suspension of agency has the potential to take us right up to the line that separates where we are now from an Orwellian future. (Many people believe we already live in a surveillance state. We’ll explore this in another article.)

We Must Deal with This Sooner or Later
Alexa is NOT dangerous. The data it collects is NOT dangerous. Nothing about an Amazon Echo is dangerous. It’s awesome. I have one in the kitchen, in the living room, in my home office, and on my night table. It’s an amazing controller, great alarm clock, spectacular Spotify and Amazon Prime interface, an exceptional news and weather reporter, and it does lots of other stuff you can look up online. I love it.

I also love my Google Home. Its ASR/NLU system is second to none. Let’s face it: Google is “the” repository of publicly available knowledge. When I’m on my handheld, I rely on “OK Google,” and while I think Siri is audio impaired and database challenged, sometimes I use it too.

But …

The world will be a very different place when Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and other AI-empowered players have assembled first-party profile data that includes our agency. It will make what they do with our current behavioral profiles look like primitive data processing.

We are predisposed to pay for convenience. We happily do it with cash and with data every day. However, we should not suspend our judgment about the implausibility of this narrative for convenience or for the quality of our enjoyment. Though this is a story we have been told before, there are no conventions of this medium. So let me be the first to scream: “Look out!”

The post Just How Dangerous Is Alexa? originally appeared here on Shelly Palmer

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry’s single source for the cloud. Fusion’s advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Ge...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Interoute is the owner operator of Europe's largest network and a global cloud services platform, which encompasses over 70,000 km of lit fiber, 15 data centers, 17 virtual data centers and 33 colocation centers, with connections to 195 additional partner data centers. Our full-service Unifie...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Systena America will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Systena Group has been in business for various software development and verification in Japan, US, ASEAN, and China by utilizing the knowledge we gained from all types of device development for various industries including smartphones (Android/iOS), wireless communication, security technology and IoT serv...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive ad...
Everywhere we turn in our industry we can find strong opinions about the direction, type and nature of cloud’s impact on computing and business. Another word that is used in every context in our industry is “hybrid.” In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Alvaro Gonzalez, Director of Technical, Partner and Field Marketing at Peak 10, will use a combination of a few conceptual props and some research recently commissioned by Peak 10 to offer a real-world consideration of how the various categories of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus intern...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EARP Integration will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EARP Integration is a passionate software house. Since its inception in 2009 the company successfully delivers smart solutions for cities and factories that start their digital transformation. EARP provides bespoke solutions like, for example, advanced enterprise portals, business intelligence systems an...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi LTD., will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will be featuring the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio. This is the industry’s only offering that allows organizations to bring together object storage, file sync and share, cloud storage gateways, and sophisticated search and...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs ofte...