A new feature on Amazon’s Alexa has raised questions about just how much information we should give a smart speaker.
From this week, Alexa owners in the UK can use the device to ask for advice on information for periods.
Alexa can now answer a series of detailed questions on periods by using information from the Freedom4Girls charity, whose guides have been informed by British teenagers, alongside existing content on the NHS website.
Host of For Tech’s Sake Elaine Burke told Moncrieff this new feature is supposed to aid “awkward conversations”.
“When you think about Alexas in households, they probably are in households with kids who have questions,” she said.
“If they're kids who are used to engaging with Alexa on those questions, it'll be helpful for them to get those kinds of answers that are backed by health experts.”
Ms Burke said Alexa owners Amazon can create a “rich profile” of a person through its commerce, video-streaming and other platforms.
Users are also able to input their credit card details, weekly routines, and other personal information
“They can all collect this large data profile on you, and that's how they'll really get to know you as a user,” Ms Burke said.
She said this is when Alexa begins "trying to influence your consumer decisions.”
A "sales assistant"
Ms Burke explained that Alexa is essentially a “sales assistant” for Amazon installed in a home to encourage people to shop online.
“You ask a question and [Alexa] says, ‘here’s the answer, but also here’s products you can buy on Amazon right now – I can input your details and we can get that shipped over to you right now’,” she said.
Despite that, Ms Burke said realistically, most people don’t give this information and use Alexa to “play music and ask what’s the weather”.
“Consumer interest in those devices has waned or plateaued,” she said. “Anyone who was going to have a smart speaker has one and they use it for fairly simple tasks.”
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