The issue of digital assistants and the privacy of users

Without realizing it, digital assistants have gradually interfered in our lives in such a way as to become almost indispensable.

Almost one in three people use a digital assistant and often without even realizing it. For some people,"We trust digital assistants too much. »

This article will also interest you: Google strengthens the privacy of its voice assistant

Indeed, it is not uncommon for many users of digital assistants to disclose personal, financial, and sensitive information to these machines. Information that is most often used for purely commercial purposes by the manufacturers of its assistants. Assigning human qualities to virtual tools seems to be a real problem by standing on the side of privacy advocates and others.

It is clear that the information provided by users necessarily goes through the mesh of the companies that provide its voice support services. These same companies that are not always respectful it must be admitted of the rules regarding the management of users' personal data.

According to a study by several researchers at the University of Waterloo, voice assistant users are increasingly at risk of disclosing a number of sensitive information about them to its digital tools. Among the most famous are Alexa from Amazon, Google assistant to the Mountain View firm, and Siri from Apple. The researchers explained this fact by this way of assigning human references to its numerical tools that do in a bottom-up way, that users tend to believe they are talking to real people. It is often faces, smiles, facial expressions that are highlighted…

In this regard, Professor Edward, a researcher at the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo notes: "People anthropomorphize these conversational agents, which could lead them to disclose more information than expected to companies that own those agents (…) These agents are information-gathering tools that companies use to sell us products. ». He later added: "Users need to ask themselves if they are creating impressions of these agents, rather than seeing them as a simple technology, and then trusting them based on those impressions. ».

To carry out their studies well, researchers at the University of Waterloo have tried a staging involving 10 men and women who had to exchange with the assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Google assistant. by Afterwards, participants were asked to draw up a typical profile of the different assistants of these experiments. It has been shown something quite special for digital tools. For example, for example, Apple's Siri assistant, users have instead observed a cunning profile and deceitful. For Alexa, it was mentioned an honest and calculated profile. And that's what continued on several other profiles ranging from physical to deeper personality.

When asked what could explain the fact that digital assistants are assigned a person's features, Anastasia Kuzminykh, a doctoral student from the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo, explains: "It's a gateway to understanding how people think, and unfortunately there's a lot of bias (…) The way an officer is perceived has an effect on his acceptance and the way people interact with him; the level of confidence that is shown to him, and the way people talk to him. »

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