Amazon Alexa virtual assistant
Alexa is a 'virtual assistant' developed by Amazon uses natural language processing and speech recognition technologies to enable users to ask questions and receive answers, get traffic alerts, set alarms, make lists, play music, and other things.
Launched in 2014 and available in multiple countries and languages, Alexa was first used in Amazon's Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers, and later in its Echo Studio and other products.
Risks and harms
Alexa is seen to pose a wide range of potential risks and caused actual harms to its users. These include the unreliability and inappropriate behaviour of its product, opaque governance, supply chain management and the abuse of privacy, inadequate safety and security, and perceived gender and racial stereotyping and bias.
Operator: Amazon; Alison Hall-O’Neil; Brandon Jackson; Kristin Livdahl; Megan Neitzel; Oliver Haberstroh; Steve Altes
Country: Germany; UK; USA
Sector: Consumer goods
Purpose: Provide information, services
Technology: NLP/text analysis; Natural language understanding (NLU); Speech recognition
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Mis/disinformation; Privacy; Safety; Security; Surveillance
Transparency: Governance; Marketing; Privacy
Ofcom/Community Research (2022). Smart speakers research with the public (pdf)
Wilson C. (2020). Dangerous Skills Got Certified: Measuring the Trustworthiness of Amazon Alexa Platform (pdf)
News, commentary, analysis
Published: September 2023