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AI Businesses

Amazon's Alexa Is Coming To an Office Near You (axios.com) 74

Amazon announced today that it's bringing its voice assistant into a range of business settings, big and small, like hotels and co-working spaces. From a report: While people always think of Amazon as a consumer company, it has shown itself time and again to have larger ambitions. This move could help it expand tis business services beyond its already popular Amazon Web services. In an interview, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said that exposure to the workplace will improve Alexa by exposing it to new types of conversations. "The kind of language we use in our offices is sometimes radically different from the more conversational things we do in our(homes)," he told Axios. Alexa "will greatly improve by being exposed to different kinds of statements or conversations."
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Amazon's Alexa Is Coming To an Office Near You

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  • Legally risky (Score:5, Interesting)

    by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @10:48AM (#56246771) Homepage Journal

    In countries where employees have some privacy rights, this could expose employers to legal risks.

    Any hotel using this will drive my business elsewhere.

  • by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @10:49AM (#56246779)

    DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER*
    down with big brother
    down with big brother
    down with big brother
    down with big brother
    down with big brother
    down with big brother
    down with big brother

    * and the only reason they all aren't "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER" is that BB, in this case /., won't allow it!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sorry Google, but Amazon appears to have become the thought leader in conversational AI. Has innovation at Google stagnated?

  • Yep. (sorry for the substance-void comment, but I don't have much else to add on the topic... privacy policies and corporate responsibility for the behaviors of these things seem to need a bit of work)
    • Possibley (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @11:44AM (#56247085)

      Google, Amazon, Apple are all missing the point.

      Technologies like this are fantastic, but only if you can wall them off from the outside world, at least as far as sending information goes.

      Put it all on a chip, provide incoming links only, and robust protection against injection type attacks. So, no sending info out, and no using outside info to affect inside systems.

      Tough nut to crack, I know. But that's the ticket!

      • Re:Possibley (Score:5, Informative)

        by gtall ( 79522 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @12:06PM (#56247213)

        Not really, the payoff for these technologies is mining your data, selling you an app is only a means to that end. And most regular proles have no idea what an injection attack is. It isn't clear they even think sending out their information is a bad thing, and you might have to define the term "information" to them.

  • by dprimary ( 215604 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @10:54AM (#56246821)

    Nothing like a huge corporate security leak.

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @10:57AM (#56246831)
    What would be the rationale for putting Alexia into any business that would justify initial purchase and deployment costs? What about control of proprietary information? What about control of legally sensitive information?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      What would be the rationale for putting Alexia into any business that would justify initial purchase and deployment costs? What about control of proprietary information? What about control of legally sensitive information?

      And you act like there was rationale or justification to put an always-on listening device in peoples homes. Our private conversations in our homes are at minimum sensitive and usually private, and that certainly didn't stop Amazon.

      I can easily see a company run by a bunch of ignorant Millennials infecting their business with automation and IoT just because is the hip cool thing to do. Doesn't need to have any more rationale than that.

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      Ignoring privacy for the moment, it might make sense to have IoT style lighting in a hotel suite.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        You do realize that IoT lighting means if you want voice commands it will by default have a microphone which will record everything you are saying at all times. You got that, right? In fact there is no IoT that isn't recording something at all times. That's how they get it to work.

    • What would be the rationale for putting Alexia into any business that would justify initial purchase and deployment costs?

      . . . handling guest requests usually served by the concierge: "Where's a good restaurant? Can you get me some musical tickets? Can you order me a pizza and some 'female companionship'?"

      The financial gain will be booting your concierge and maybe a few other staff, as well.

      Maybe not the thing that Marriott guests would want, but OK for the Motel 6 crowd.

      Hey, there are even "Express" hotels with no visible staff at all! Just pop your credit card in, and the vending machine will give you your key.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @11:13AM (#56246917) Homepage Journal

    Who the fuck thinks this sort of thing is a Good Idea?

    Spying on your employees?
    Possibly exposing your business practices to another business entity (who you may or may not be competing with)?

    I'd think that this sort of thing is something only a raging dumbass would do...

    • Who the fuck thinks this sort of thing is a Good Idea?

      Spying on your employees?
      Possibly exposing your business practices to another business entity (who you may or may not be competing with)?

      I'd think that this sort of thing is something only a raging dumbass would do...

      And for those of us doing work for the government, I'm sure the department of defense has signed off on Alexa as a secure device, right?

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Amazon, and they don't mind spying on your employees...and for a bit off the top, they'll let you do the spying for them.

  • by Voyager529 ( 1363959 ) <voyager529@ya h o o.com> on Monday March 12, 2018 @11:26AM (#56246981)

    Wow, seriously, no one can think of some possibilities here?

    "Alexa, file a helpdesk ticket about the WiFi not working."

    "Alexa, we need more coffee for the break room. Order some Kopi Luwak."

    "Alexa, laugh maniacally whenever Steve says 'development'."

    "Alexa, please translate the last several minutes of the VP of Marketing's presentation into actual English."

    "Alexa, it's cold in here, turn up the thermostat." *next cubicle over* "Alexa, it's hot in here, turn down the thermostat."

  • Indeed - I'll put one into our weekly program review meeting; the fucking Amazon server will explode...

  • No, not it's not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    First the business case doesn't exist. It's not needed or desired. Not to mention the boat loads of industry that just can't have something like this in their office at all. Financial industry, attorneys, medical, government. There I just ruled out 80% of the workforce.

    Hotel lobby,maybe, and only as a novelty, but no place else in the hotel. And for what actual purpose would you use this spyware device?

  • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @12:18PM (#56247279)

    What serious business would seriously consider an always on surveillance device that eavesdrops on every conversation around them?

    You may as well put up a big sign in your window that says, "Trade Secrets available to anyone who will listen!"

  • by rklrkl ( 554527 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @12:44PM (#56247405) Homepage

    We got an Amazon Echo at work to see if it's any use for business activities as it stands. First problem was that there's no way to configure a proxy server to gain access to Amazon (and other) remote servers, which is incredibly short-sighted of them.

    Second issue is that an "obvious" business use is recording (and preferably transcribing) business meetings, but I was *shocked* that the Echo can't even take a simple voice note and record it for you for later access (never mind transcribing to text, which would be another essential feature).

    As everyone has been pointing out here, everything the Echo does seems to go through Amazon's servers, so business confidentiality seems to be a major stumbling block to business acceptance. Heck, I can't even tell if the data goes out encrypted (without sniffing the network traffic) and is always stored encrypted.

  • InfoSec says NO (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eth1 ( 94901 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @01:36PM (#56247757)

    As an InfoSec guy, there is NO WAY IN HELL any of these type of devices are getting into my building.

    In fact, I think our next infosec newsletter will mention keeping these away from work-from-home spaces, as well

  • Alexa, can you get everybody to SHUT THE FUCK UP?

    I'm trying to do, you know, actual work here.

  • Then I am SO outta there. I already have to dodge and weave - and issue threats which I fully plan to make good on if push comes to shove - just to keep pictures of myself off of Facebook. If I so much as SEE an Alexa-based device or its equivalent, then I'm packing up my tools and walking out the door.

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