Dystopia, by Amazon

Dystopia, by Amazon

After Amazon won a patent on a “voice processing algorithm” for its Echo home assistant, most news outlets focused on how it would let Amazon detect customers’ mood and health. Intercept editorial fellow Belle Lin dug deeper and found a different aspect of the patent — its claim to be able to detect accents and ethnic origin. Privacy and civil liberties advocates were alarmed by the technology, which they believed could be repurposed to round up suspected undocumented immigrants, to flag Arabic speakers as terrorists, or to create voice prints of Americans and eventually spy on them. Separately, Amazon came under fire after it was revealed that its new headquarters will cost twice what it said, at $4.6 billion.

A similar local outcry is building in Toronto against Google, which is trying to build a utopian smart city” there. A year after the company announced plans for the neighborhood, Intercept contributor Ava Kofman found that a slew of locals had resigned from advisory roles on the project, including a former Ontario privacy commissioner who said it was turning into “a Smart City of Surveillance.”

Ryan Tate
Technology Editor
Amazon’s Accent Recognition Technology Could Tell the Government Where You’re From
Belle LinA new patent shows how Alexa could derive ethnic origin and emotion by analyzing speech. Experts think the government could come after the resulting data.READ MORE →
Google’s “Smart City of Surveillance” Faces New Resistance in Toronto
Ava KofmanLocal organizers in Toronto have united to push Google out of their government.READ MORE →

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