Google Assistant is the most accurate voice assistant on the market beating out Samsung's Bixby, Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri. A new report says the company has humans listening to recorded search queries to help improve the accuracy of its assistant.
Google has contractors listening to recordings from Google Assistant users according to Belgium-based VRT NWS Thursday. A contractor provided the news outlet with more than a thousand recordings of people using Google Home and the Google Assistant app to answer questions and conduct searches. There were also recordings from when the assistant was accidentally triggered.
The Google contractor says their job entails listening to the recordings to check the accuracy of the assistant listening to users speaking in Dutch. Contractors review the script of the recorded query and confirm it matches with the voice recording. There are reportedly thousands of Google employees worldwide listening to audio excerpts via a secure login in the company's Crowdsource app.
In response to the report, Google says these contractors listen to 0.2% of all recordings and user accounts are not associated with the recordings.
"These language experts review and transcribe a small set of queries to help us better understand those languages," David Monsees, product manager for Google Search, said in a blog post Thursday. "This is a critical part of the process of building speech technology, and is necessary to creating products like the Google Assistant."
Monsees says the contractor violated the company's data security policies and there is an investigation underway.
When setting up a Google account, the option for voice and audio activity is set to off by default. Users have to opt-in to store recordings on the account and there is a disclosure that the recordings could be used to improve the speech systems.
In April, a report found Amazon uses human workers to listen to Alexa recordings to improve the assistant's accuracy.
Originally published on July 11, 7:29 a.m. PT.
Updated, 8:08 a.m. PT: Adds Google comment.
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