Cupertino-based Apple is sending out formal apologies as last week it came to light that its contractors were listening to users’ Siri recordings. The firm also said that it fell short of its “ideals.” This is a process called ‘grading,’ a quality control measure that relies on contractors hired by Apple to listen to audio recordings to determine whether its Siri service accurately heard them. The information is then used to improve Siri’s future performance and capabilities.
In a formal apology, the California-based company said in its blog, “We haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that, we apologize”. Apple will halt its grading process and further said that if consumers grant permission, only then its own employees will be allowed to review audio to help improve Siri.
There’s no way of knowing how exactly will Apple seek permission but in the past, it has requested permissions through prompts during software update installations. Apple also said that it will still use computer-generated transcripts to improve their services, even if a user hasn’t granted permissions.
“We know that customers have been concerned by recent reports of people listening to audio Siri recordings as part of our Siri quality evaluation process. We heard their concerns, immediately suspended human grading of Siri requests and began a thorough review of our practices and policies,” Apple said.
This privacy breach isn’t new as huge firms like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple have all accepted that people have been listening to users’ interactions with artificial intelligence assistants in order to improve the services. What most people don’t know is that humans, not just computers are reviewing audio.
This is also alarming as Apple devices were considered safe. Apple even posted billboards that proclaimed, “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone,” at the CES conference in Las Vegas this year.