Amazon’s head Alexa scientist, Rohit Prasad, has been dropping hints about where the online retail giants intends to take their voice-activated assistant, revealing Alexa Conversations at a Portugal conference recently, detailing how Alexa will no longer wait for a voice to activate her engagement – she’ll just start talking, and will anticipate details you may not have considered.
“Now Alexa is going to be predicting your needs,” says Parham Eftekhari, Executive Director for the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology and a cybersecurity specialist. “Potentially there are scenarios where it will make purchases for you. Do you trust that it will be you on the end approving those purchases?”
You buy movie tickets. Alexa knows where the theater is, where you live, that you don’t own a car, so she orders an Uber for you. She makes reservations at the restaurant you love to frequent on movie nights, and texts you during dinner to remind you that the porch light was left on.
You’ve been called into the bosses’ office and explain your absence as having been a doctor’s appointment. “And then Alexa comes on and says, “Hey, you were just home and you left the dishwasher on.’ Now your cover is blown, right?” says Eftekhari.
The idea is to move Alexa from a passive to proactive discussions.
On top of all the privacy issues that have already been raised over concern about Alexa’s ability to record and catalog voice and video images, this is raising more alarms. Alexa already has more than 100,000 “skills” at her disposal, and this talent is likely to warrant additional scrutiny.