back to article Apple techies analyzing Siri recordings may have heard you unzipping and bonking – plus more

Here's a quick summary of what's been happening in the machine learning lately, beyond what we've already reported. Newsflash! Facial recognition systems are still racist: The latest benchmarking tests performed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, reveals that facial recognition algorithms made by a French …

  1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Unhappy

    This!

    Isn't the future I was promised as a kid. I demand a rewind. And my hair back.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: This!

      You can have your own back.

      Just encourage people to name their kids Siri or Alexa and sit back wille Apple and Amazon tear their hair out too.

      :)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: This!

        >Isn't the future I was promised as a kid.

        Didn't you read 1984 in school?

        It's exactly the future you were promised

    2. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: This!

      I asked, too, but Siri misheard "I want my hair back" as "I want my hair [on my] back". Still, I could have benefited from "I want my hair[ing] back" but no doubt it would have given me a herring, rather than my hearing. I suspect.

  2. the Jim bloke Silver badge
    FAIL

    Very poor prevention rate

    " One of them blocks nasty code on an average of 200,000 devices every month, "

    .. but the majority of Windows Updates manages to sneak past

  3. LDS Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

    Well, that explains what it records next...

    Someone still thinks an always-on mic is a good idea?

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

      Maybe it's looking for the one person who actually bought WinZip...

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

        I admit it, it was me. The paid version included the ability to customise the dialog box; and create a self-extractor.

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

          "...create a self-extractor."

          Mr Wizard- get me out of here!

    2. NATTtrash
      Gimp

      Re: "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

      Someone still thinks an always-on mic is a good idea?

      Am I hopelessly old-fashioned if I say that I genuinely like physical ON/ OFF switches?***

      ***(Had to buy a new telly not too long ago. Do you know what a struggle it is to find a telly that you can really switch OFF (so no stand by, but 0.0 W) without pulling out the plug?)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Need For Speed

        You must be fun at parties... just for the sake of it, I crunched the numbers...

        A 55" LG OLED TV of 2019 (OLED55B6V) draws 0.5w on standby.

        0.5w/hr x 8760 hours in a year (365 days) = 4.38 kWh of electricity a year.

        I just checked my SSE bill and I pay 18.43p per kWh. This comes to a grand total of..... £0.81 a year, or less than 2p a week, for not having a standby button. Given the restrictions on model based on having a physical button, personally, I'll stick with being able to pick my remote up any time and turn my TV on.

        I'm curious; do you have a Satellite/cable/Sky box plugged in? Do you also turn your broadband router off when not using it?

        1. NATTtrash

          Re: The Need For Speed

          @ACThanks for doing the numbers. But... it's not about that. It's about the fact it is my consumer preference that I can turn a thing off. And be honest, if you want I can come up with just as many reasons why that would be a good thing (fire anybody?) But then again, we're all grown ups here (I think, not sure, come to think of it, ermm ☺). I suppose the point I was to make is why are there more and more devices you can't turn off OFF. Because yes, it's no big cost to me right. So how much will it cost a manufacturer to put a physical switch on their devices? Ahhh... profit... Continious online... And since you mentioned it:

          Sure, take those numbers you mentioned, and then consider the whole world population. Having their devices they have on stand by. Including their routers (yes, mine came with a time switch, as did yours probably. Use it?)... and phones which seem soooo difficult to turn off when I look around me. And my satellite is integrated in the (new) telly. No use for Sky, we have proper telly here...</grumpy old fart mode>

          @Simon Harris I know what you mean from my own time in Blighty. But also have to admit it was the only country of the 9 I live(d) in where such switches are on outlets. Sadly...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Need For Speed

            Silly question, but don't the plugs in your house have on/off switches? If you're walking to the TV, then it's probably about the same distance to the plug socket (Or perhaps less).

            You can also get those smart extension lead things that turn it all off for you (supposedly), although... I bet they draw current, possibly even more than the TV itself would in standby.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: The Need For Speed

          >I crunched the numbers...

          Assuming it stays off

          I used to come home to the TV having been on full all day, or being woken up in the middle of the night - because there has been a momentary power glitch that had restarted it

          In the end i had to buy a switched extension cord to switch it off at the wall

        3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: The Need For Speed

          Given the restrictions on model based on having a physical button, personally, I'll stick with being able to pick my remote up any time and turn my TV on.

          But when you LOSE that remote (as is certain to happen in THIS household), you have a piece of useless electronic junk, since apparently *ALL* manufacturers have decided to do away with buttons on the TVs now. So it looks like our next TV will be a *used* one from the local resale shop, as I don't want to reward the electronics manufacturers by buying the shit they're making now.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: The Need For Speed

          "4.38 kWh of electricity a year.....£0.81 a year, or less than 2p a week, for not having a standby button."

          Now multiply that by (my guess), 40 million TVs in the UK. 175GWh per year or 20GW generating capacity. Now we starting to look at the equivalent of an entire power station, just to keep TVs on standby. Now add in all the other devices left on standby, not to mention all the phone chargers and the like the many people tend to leave plugged in and switched on 24/7, even when not being used.

          1. Def Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: The Need For Speed

            Now multiply that by the 2 billion or so TVs around the world (229 million sold in 2017, life span of ~10 years), and all the other devices in the world that are on "standby" 24/7.

        5. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

          Re: The Need For Speed

          My mother-in-law turns off her router when she shuts the lid of her laptop (after playing solitaire), then wonders why her cellphone uses up all her included data and $9 credit on the first day of her 28-day pre-pay rollover period.

          But at least she deletes all her text messages after reading, to save space...

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

        I don't know where in the world you are, but one of the features of UK electrical outlets is that the majority of them have a switch built in so you can get down to 0.0W without actually pulling the appliance out of the wall.

      3. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

        I just use a remote controlled plug that I hang an extension cord off.

        If I want to turn off everything attached to the extension cord - one click and it's fully powered down.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

          I use two surge protectors, one gets switched off to save power for things like the TV, the other is for stuff I don't like my PVR, Wifi etc.

      4. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

        Am I hopelessly old-fashioned if I say that I genuinely like physical ON/ OFF switches?***

        Same here.

        I actually stopped buying proper external drives when the half-wit shits decided not to include ON/OFF switches anymore.

        Easier to buy bare drives and use them in a dock or home-made enclosure rather than reward those idiots for such mean and unhelpful decisions. Just yanking the cable or finding the right plug out of a dozen is not an option and I prefer drives to unmount properly and not be turned on by accident.

        Apart from the Iron Law of Monopoly, I don't know why the drive-makers all ate themselves until only 3 survived, but survival of the fittest in no way meant survival of the cleverest for this industry.

        .

        Alao I may say how smart and sharp it is, after the dinosaur age of beige boxes to have a dozen wires together very very black.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

          Apart from the Iron Law of Monopoly, I don't know why the drive-makers all ate themselves until only 3 survived, but survival of the fittest in no way meant survival of the cleverest for this industry.

          How true. If Western Digital is still around, then it's certainly not survival of the best/cleverest, more like the Peter Principle at work.

    3. Teawain

      Re: "Just the sound of someone undoing a zip can activate..."

      Maybe OFF buttons cold become popular again. Just imagine how smartphones are ruining lives so effectively. Sleep, privacy, socially, financially. We've sleepwalked into it, quite happily in return for attention and tech kudos.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "This means the Windows giant is automatically tipped off [..] about the fledgling malware"

    No actually, this means the malware developers are not going to test their stuff against Microsofts monotonic whatever and Microsoft will remain in the dark and their tool be useless.

    Does anyone at Microsoft really think that it'll be that simple ? Those malware developers are not skript kiddies, they are intelligent people. I do not see them shrug and decide to put their code into Microsoft's database. If they were testing on an offline computer, it was for a reason : they didn't want Microsoft to find out what they were doing.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old unix (and linux) joke

    unzip; strip; touch; finger; grep; mount; fsck; more; yes; fsck; fsck; fsck; umount; sleep

    1. Korev Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Old unix (and linux) joke

      I actually saw someone wearing a "Unix is sexy"* T shirt to a conference a few years back. -->

      * the above is probably NSFW for most workplaces.

  6. oiseau Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Surprised?

    These recordings are accompanied by user data showing location, contact details, and app data.

    Well, well, well ...

    What a surprise!

    I've tried to keep an open mind and see the point of it but have have failed (over and over again) to understand the reasons why anyone in their sane mind would let this crap into their homes.

    So, (very) loosely paraphrasing the great George Carlin (1937-2008), my conclusion is this:

    Never underestimate the capacity of stupid people to do stupid things.

    O.

    1. Adair

      Re: Surprised?

      Indeed, nobody, not a single person with a working neuron, saw this coming. I'm utterly shocked, appalled and discombobulated! How can it be!?

  7. bryces666

    facial recognition

    Current built in bias sounds just perfect for American security under their current president. Mmm, didn't Britain just get there own Trumpian in charge also....

    1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: facial recognition

      You are correct, sir (or ma'am): under Obama, none of this happened. And no one was deported and no middle-eastern countries bombed into oblivion. Orange Man Bad.

  8. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Joke

    Overheard

    human contractors listening to the digital assistant's audio recordings have apparently listened to illicit drug deals

    Hey Siri, do it to me one more time

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (The voice of) Siri...

    ...follows me on Twitter - for some bizarre reason...

    ...so if she wants to hear my shennanigans - she need only ask...

  10. I.Geller Bronze badge

    AI Adoption Fuels Demand for Data-Labeling Services = wsj.com

    Now you see the reason why I patented it all

  11. F111F
    WTF?

    Right to Privacy?

    If Siri/Alexa record conversations involving illegal activity, does the company (or their contractor) have a duty to turn these over to the police? Corollary: Would a privileged conversation be still considered privileged if both parties knew an "always-on" microphone was recording and sending their conversation to a non-privileged third party?

    Can the police acquire Siri/Alexa recordings from a warrant if the police believe illicit behavior may have been recorded by the device?

    Lastly, my parents, brother, and son all have these devices in their homes and all require yelling at the top of one's voice to get the damn things to respond. When there are multiple noise sources (conversations, music, kids, etc), they have to stand over the device, speaking loudly to get it to respond. Sorry, not sorry, I don't have one myself.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Right to Privacy?

      >Can the police acquire Siri/Alexa recordings from a warrant

      Warrant?

      Why would they need a warrant, the data is stored in the USA so the UK plod don't need a warrant (and v.v.)

      Or it's international data transfer so already covered by a warrant from 50years ago

      Or it's purely data not a phone call so no warrant.

    2. I.Geller Bronze badge

      Re: Right to Privacy?

      This won't work, don't worry, purely technically. Soon they all will stop to listen.

      1. I.Geller Bronze badge

        Re: Right to Privacy?

        Dictionary is a book or electronic resource that lists the words of a language (typically in alphabetical order) and gives their meaning, often also providing information about pronunciation, origin, and usage.

        These companies MANUALLY make dictionaries. They soon will stop. No sense. I patented that.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Right to Privacy?

          "These companies MANUALLY make dictionaries. They soon will stop. No sense. I patented that."

          Have they entered into licencing deals with you then? If not, how do you know? Have you got contacts that are telling you they are working around your patents?

          1. I.Geller Bronze badge

            Re: Right to Privacy?

            American tradition: steal and run, Look at Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin and Larry Page?

            However this is AI.

            1. I.Geller Bronze badge

              Re: Right to Privacy?

              Yes, I forgot! Buy a corrupt judge first and ask the CIA to cover you.

          2. I.Geller Bronze badge

            Re: Right to Privacy?

            "Training Data is nothing but enriched or labeled data you need to train your models."

            https://hackernoon.com/what-is-training-data-really-adf0b97a116c

            They all manually make dictionaries and definitions.

            1. A computer system implemented method of creating and using structured data from a textual input, the method comprising: providing a table for structured data; receiving at least one textual input; dividing at least a portion of the textual input into one or more paragraphs; for each of the paragraphs, creating a profile by extracting one or more predicative phrases from the paragraph; for each of the predicative phrases, extracting a noun from the predicative phrase; for each extracted noun, receiving a textual definition from the dictionary corresponding to the noun of the predicative phrase; dividing the textual definition for each noun into one or more definition paragraphs, and creating a profile for each definition paragraph by extracting one or more predicative phrases of the definition paragraph; comparing the profile of each definition paragraph to the profile of the paragraph containing the respective noun based upon an algorithm for compatibility; and adding the predicative phrase containing the noun into the table for structured data if the algorithm for compatibility is satisfied.

          3. I.Geller Bronze badge

            Re: Right to Privacy?

            Their "models" are actually an attempt to cheat on me and don't pay me for my patented AI, these "models" are nothing else but hand-made dictionaries.

            "Training Data is nothing but enriched or labeled data you need to train your models."

            https://hackernoon.com/what-is-training-data-really-adf0b97a116c

  12. I.Geller Bronze badge

    Doesn't have any sense to make hand-made dictionaries, "train your data" - much cheaper and effective to have just a good dictionary and a well-established encyclopedia, which both already got in themselves all needed correlations and synonyms.

  13. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    Gosh... all of those 30 second long recordings...

  14. Doctor Evil

    An honest mistake!

    "[...] technical errors, for example if the AI bot incorrectly hears "Hey, Siri!" and responds when it wasn’t explicitly activated"

    I can easily see how this would happen. I mean, "Hey, Siri!" sounds a lot like "Oooh, yes! Yes!"

  15. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

    Re. An honest mistake!

    Sounds about right.

    Wasn't there a problem with a certain advert activating auto purchases?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Voice hacks

    I'm waiting to see what voice hacks can be done to the Assistants. Can we make them format themselves? or make the device think that a command is coming from another device. So,,,, I can set a wake up call every 15 min between 2 and 5 am for Mark Zuckerberg, playing "Never gonna give you up" Rick Roll song.........

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019