11 April 2019

Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa

Two of the workers said they picked up what they believe was a sexual assault. When something like that happens, they may share the experience in the internal chat room as a way of relieving stress. Amazon says it has procedures in place for workers to follow when they hear something distressing, but two Romania-based employees said that, after requesting guidance for such cases, they were told it wasn’t Amazon’s job to interfere.Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa

What is the right thing to do?

It’s a difficult moral dilemma to attack and it’s (yet another) great example of why it’s so crucial for designers (and the rest of the team) to have a clear set of ethics.

The tools we’re building are no longer just ‘gimmicks’, they are integrated into our personal (and private) lives on a level that we’ve never seen in society before. Sure, adding things to your shopping list through voice is great but as long as the company that’s listening in is in the business of ‘personal data’, don’t be naive and think they’ll only record the shopping list.

I’m becoming increasingly terrified over the fact that there is no real debate around this on a national - and global - level. We’re just letting the big 5 continue to hoard our data and then get upset over the fact that they sell it.