Amazon Unveils A "Voice Sniffer" Algo In New Patent

Seemingly undeterred by the recent outrage over tech giants' abusing their access to personal privacy, a recent patent filed by Amazon with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has unveiled a new artificial intelligence system that could be embedded in an array of Amazon devices to analyze all audio in real time for specific words.

Amazon calls the technology “Keyword Determinations From Conversational Data,” otherwise known as a ‘voice sniffer algorithm,’ and this could be the next giant leap towards expanding mass home surveillance of consumers' private lives.

This pending patent application shows how Amazon could use consumers’ home data collected and stored on servers “to draw disturbing inferences about households, and how the company might use that data for financial gain,” said the Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit advocacy group in Santa Monica, Calif.

“The more words they collect, the more the company gets to know you,” Daniel Burrus, a tech analyst with Burrus Research Associates, Inc., told ABC News. “They are building a personality profile on the user.”

Currently, Amazon devices operate in a “listening” mode only and can be activated via user commands, such as “Alexa” or “Hello Alexa.” As far as we know, Amazon devices do not record conversations, as they only listen to commands after the user initiates a trigger word.

However, within the foreseeable future, Amazon devices could record all conversations — even without a trigger word to wake up the device, along with creating a corporate profile of the end user for "commercial purposes."

Always on, Always listening.

The patent explains how the “voice sniffer algorithms” are designed to monitor certain keywords like, “prefer” and “bought,” or other words such as “hate” or “disliked,” and then the device can “capture adjacent audio that can be analyzed.”

According to the patent, ”the identified keywords can be stored and/or transmitted to an appropriate location accessible to entities such as advertisers or content providers who can use the keywords to attempt to select or customize the content that is likely relevant to the user,” reports ABC News.

ABC News does not mention, but we will throw this out there, government agencies could also acquire the data from Amazon.

Kiran Edara, a senior manager of software development at Amazon, who wrote the abstract for the patent, provides an easy to understand overview of it:

“Topics of potential interest to a user, useful for purposes such as targeted advertising and product recommendations, can be extracted from voice content produced by a user. A computing device can capture voice content, such as when a user speaks into or near the device. One or more sniffer algorithms or processes can attempt to identify trigger words in the voice content, which can indicate a level of interest of the user. For each identified potential trigger word, the device can capture adjacent audio that can be analyzed, on the device or remotely, to attempt to determine one or more keywords associated with that trigger word. The identified keywords can be stored and/or transmitted to an appropriate location accessible to entities such as advertisers or content providers who can use the keywords to attempt to select or customize content that is likely relevant to the user.”

Burrus told ABC News, Amazon could offer “personalized offers on products, encourage [a user] to take action, or better persuade someone to buy a product.”

ABC News said the pending patent could even offer your private data to “friends of the user for gift buying” purposes. Nevertheless, the patent is pending, and there could still be a chance the USPTO does not approve it.

“The patent has not yet been approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and tech companies often file hundreds, if not thousands of patents a year. However, not every patent is approved by the USPTO. Amazon was granted 1,963 patent applications in 2017, which was an 18 percent increase from the year before when they were awarded 1,672 patents, according to data from the USPTO analyzed by IFI Claims Patent Services, a company that provides patent data services.”

Daniel Ives, a tech analyst with GBH Insights, indicates Alexa’s intelligence would rapidly increase if the pending patent was to be implemented in devices, because the algorithms would have unlimited reign on a consumer’s personal life.

“This further builds on Alexa and more data intelligence and analysis through voice that is a major initiative for Amazon,” he said. “This algorithm would possibly feed from Alexa into the rest of the Amazon consumer flywheel, ultimately helping drive purchasing and buying behavior of Prime members.

The patent gives examples, including, “… in sentences such as ‘I love skiing’ or ‘I like to swim’ the words ‘like’ and ‘love’ could be examples [of] trigger words indicating a level of interest.”

Peter Kent, an e-commerce consultant and expert witness on internet technology patents, told ABC News:

However, the patent does say that “a user can have the option of activating or deactivating the sniffing or voice capture processes, for purposes such as privacy and data security,” and users must indicate a “willingness to have voice content analyzed” for the trigger-word algorithms to work. The patent may also allow video cameras on devices to “capture image information to attempt to determine which user is speaking.”

In a statement, an Amazon spokesman told ABC News the technology company takes the privacy of its customers “seriously.”

“We take privacy seriously and have built multiple layers of privacy into our devices. We do not use customers’ voice recordings for targeted advertising,” the Amazon spokesman said in the statement. “Like many companies, we file a number of forward-looking patent applications that explore the full possibilities of new technology. Patents take multiple years to receive and do not necessarily reflect current developments to products and services.”

Ironic: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg said the same thing before getting caught doing the opposite.

So while Amazon's voice triggered devices offer some convenience, they also offer the corporate clients of Amazon unprecedented insight into the customers’ private lives, the same way when Facebook wins an ad contract, it is selling the client all of your personal information in the process. Meanwhile, unable to respond to this onslaught of in home eavesdropping, America finds itself in the latter stages of the disappearance of individual privacy.

And with tech giants symbiotically linked to the US government, the Fourth Amendment is almost null and void, which with the ongoing crackdown against the 1st and 2nd amendments, will assure that in just a few years the corporate takeover of the country - whose residents which have voluntarily ceded over their most sacred rights - will be complete.


macholatte Joe Davola Thu, 04/05/2018 - 12:57 Permalink


Curious how the AI will interpret these:

    What the fuck is this?
    What the fuck are you talking about?
    What the fuck is with this guy?
    What the fuck are you doing here?
    What the fuck is going on? (going on means happening)
    Where the fuck are you going?
    What the fuck are you thinking?
    Fuck it!
    Holy Fuck!
    Fuck you/him her!
    Fuck that/this
    Go fuck yourself
    Fuck me
    I/you/we am/are so fucked
    Get fucked
    Fuck no
    Fuck yeah
    are you fucking with me?
    Stop fucking around
    stupid fuck
    dumb fuck    
Mother fucker
fuck face
fuck stick.
    Fuck off!


In reply to by Joe Davola

SethPoor DillyDilly Thu, 04/05/2018 - 13:09 Permalink

I have NO sympathy for useful idiot losers who voluntarily participate in the sick pyscho tech world. I want to know why EQUIFAX skated. They caused serious serious long lasting damage to innocent people. Silence. Sounds of Silence


(More sounds of silence from NigLanta…

the story of this missing spook had been buried; Check Out his Parents' history and employers)

In reply to by DillyDilly

DillyDilly SethPoor Thu, 04/05/2018 - 13:20 Permalink

I swear...


Just yesterday I came across a link to an article on some page, & the teaser was: 'THE TOP 10 'MUST HAVE' TECH GADGETS FOR 2018'


So, I gave it it's due (hopefully somebody had finally invented a flying tractor, or something useful like that)... & CLICKED


- 3 of the 10 items were Apple smartfones

- 3 were Android smartfones

- Then there was Amazon Echo, Sony Playstation, Microsoft X-Box, and something from Ninnytendo.

In reply to by SethPoor

cougar_w Sy Kloine Bee Thu, 04/05/2018 - 14:03 Permalink

"The NSA has been doing it already using "smart" devices"

If by smart devices you mean cell phones, then yes they are 100% all day every day all the time doing this.

I imagine the NSA will now be really interest in "partnering" with Amazon regarding other smart-things-not-cell-phones like these Alexa things. And with Apple, and with Google, because everyone is going to be snorting up voice activity all the time, eventually. Your car will listen in on you. The crib monitor. Your laptop computer. The smart thermostat in the middle of the hall where you though nobody would be listening.

There will be smart vending machines on the sidewalk, listening. They will know who is standing there either via your cell phone sending your location, or by x-referencing your voice signature with an Amazon web service provided for the purpose, or by consulting with a build-in vending machine camera (like you see on ATMs) and x-referencing against that.

Smart parking meters. Smart cash registers. Smart buses and autonomous cars.

This cannot be stopped. You can opt-out of cell phone, FB, Alexa, Google, Amazon Prime and never touch that shit nor anything remotely like it but you cannot opt-out of walking down the street with your accomplice ... er I mean your friend and having a private chat. China is already doing this as noted recently (that they admit to), England started doing it a few years ago in London at least as a trial. Initially all about "dealing with terrorists" meanwhile they miss all the terrorists being too busy snooping on pretty girls.

No way out now. It's coming and you best get ready.

In reply to by Sy Kloine Bee

cougar_w HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Thu, 04/05/2018 - 17:32 Permalink

Voice-masking is trivial. You can probably buy a scrambler for $20 online. There should be cheap kits to make your own. You can even wear a good HEPA face mask to the exact same effect ( and breathe clean air in the bargain.

Yes the problem is in part voice recognition, but in the end it is more about content of conversations. They will know what you are talking about. Maybe not who you are exactly while talking, but certainly what you are talking about and from that something about what you may be thinking. If they can locate you to a physical address (if for example that particular Alexa is registered to a street address, or you have a cell phone on you with location services enabled) then they will know close enough who you are for their purposes of selling the contents of your conversation to the highest bidder.

You people clearly don't get it. The technology is way past you already, and moving fast. You are now in so much trouble -- you are already in so deep -- that there is nothing I could reveal here that would make any sense to you.

I know how all this works and how it is tied together. I've helped write some of the software, and I got paid really well.

You are totally boned. You have been boned for years. You will be boned forever.

In reply to by HRH of Aquitaine 2.0

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 cougar_w Thu, 04/05/2018 - 18:30 Permalink

Oh thanks so much for the information about how much we are fucked!

I was at the grocery store earlier today and ended up pissing off the snowflake cashier. Apparently she dislikes packaging and is a complaining about "excessive packaging" and she though it would be a good idea if everyone brought a bag to buy flour or other items! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I mentioned that Kroger's has had bulk food bins where you can buy as little or as much as you want, for many years. This bitch was so indoctrinated with this environmentalist, global citizen crap she had to mention that China is no longer accepting US garbage. WTF? Of course the snotflake hasn't been to Rome or Athens (where the little motorcycles cause a lot of pollution) or Bejiing (which has no environmental standards) but any excuse to bash Trump!

Anyhow, my point is I don't recycle. Wait until they start reading comments like this or go through my purchases and find out I threw away those wine bottles and refried bean cans in the regular trash! OMFG! That is what this is coming to, where they will dig through your trash and force you to comply with every nanny state fucking rule or you will pay bigly for refusing to follow their programs. I am still reading that book, "Hope of the Wicked" by Ted Flynn and last nights chapter was about John Dewey and how he completely fucked up public education in the US. The little brats actually think the world is in danger from plastic bags. Give me a fucking break! I wanted to slap that clueless cashier but I smiled and went on my way.

In reply to by cougar_w

Masher1 Sy Kloine Bee Thu, 04/05/2018 - 17:45 Permalink

I hunt and KILL every single computer connected microphone, Laptop,Cellphone whatever... might perhaps come into my environment.. It is a pain to buy something new and be forced to dismantle and inspect every square millimeter of some new tech gadget, but well worth the trouble... And you may learn a thing or two about this tech along this path... Spying is a BIG game folks and you are the target 24/7.

In reply to by Sy Kloine Bee

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 ipso_facto Thu, 04/05/2018 - 15:37 Permalink

I just spent $90 for a digital TV receiver. No monthly bills. It has a remote, it has a little signal booster, you plug it into your TV and slap it on the wall. I will keep everyone posted on if it works. I also bought a Magic Jack, same thing. Plug it into my router and for $42 I get phone service for a year. Portable. You can take it with you, put it in your hotel room. As soon as these devices show up I am cutting the cord. I'm done! I will pay for Internet service, the middle speed, and that is it.

I have my old Note 3 and found out it will work via wifi. If I had to call 911 it would work but I don't pay for any kind of cell service. Everyplace in my area has guest wifi: the stores, doctor office, McDonalds, coffee place. Why should I pay $65 a month so I have cell service I don't use 95% of the time? I couldn't believe it when I found out I could still use my phone via wifi and it worked! I get emails, texts on my google voice number, Internet service via wifi.

In reply to by ipso_facto

smallblockchevy350 Agent P Thu, 04/05/2018 - 16:52 Permalink

I had the same thing happen. Asked my mother what kind of joint health supplement she was giving the dog with my phone sitting out and the next day I start getting ads for the exact same medication.


Keep the radio or music on and keep your phone on the table next to the speakers. Here you go, NSA voice recognition software, listen to death metal for 8 hours while I go do something.


At least now I know why everybody's phone battery doesn't last worth a shit.

In reply to by Agent P

tunetopper DisorderlyConduct Thu, 04/05/2018 - 16:01 Permalink

How ironic is it that a legal handgun was used to shoot a YouTube employee by someone that uses their technology to promote themselves - which has no accretive value to society.  And these same tech co's are being used by intelligence agencies to monitor all of us that use them, so that they can take the guns away from those who would never self-promote themselves by using Youtube technology because it is egocentric and nonsensical to use YouTube videos in the way that that shooter was using it. Not even mentioning te fact that most law abiding handgun owners are accretive to society, hold jobs, and like their own privacy, which is being eroded away quickly.  The Republicans allowed net-neutrality to be taken away-  and with it your privacy.... BTW, I voted for Trump, and am a lifelong republican... but folks, lets face it --- they are all selling us down the river.    Term Limits is our only hope, and should be the only item on the next ballot(s) that matters. 

In reply to by DisorderlyConduct