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So Apple is going to stop listening to your Siri requests. What now?



One week after a report in The Guardian revealed that people in Apple's Siri "rating" program heard private and illegal activity, Apple has suspended the program to conduct a review. It also works with a software update to allow users to unsubscribe (or perhaps sign up).

Apple issued a simple statement: "We are committed to providing a great Siri experience while protecting users' privacy. While conducting a thorough review, we are suspending Siri rating globally. In addition, as part of a future software update, users will have the opportunity to choose to participate in grading. "

That's right to do, but it makes me wonder what the road ahead should be. Because while most people don't realize it, machine learning (ML) and AI are built on a foundation of human "grading," and there is no good alternative in sight. And with Siri often criticized for being a year or two behind its rivals, it won't be easy for Apple to take charge while protecting our privacy.

Everyone does it

What is this Siri grading program all about? Basically, every time you say "Hey Siri …" the command you provide is processed on your device, but also is semi-anonymized and sent up to the cloud. Some small percentages are used to train the neural network that allows Siri (and Apple's dictation function) to understand exactly what you're saying. Someone, somewhere in the world, listens to some of the "Hey Siri" commands and notes whether Siri understood the person correctly or not.

Then the machine learning network is adjusted and re-adjusted, and re-adjusted, through millions of permutations. The changes are automatically tested against these “graded” samples until a new ML algorithm yields more accurate results. Then that neural network becomes the new baseline and the process repeats.

There is just no way to train ML algorithms – for speech recognition or image recognition or to determine if your security camera saw a person or a car – without a human training.

There is just no way to train ML algorithms – for speech recognition or photo recognition or to determine if your security camera saw a person or a car – without a person training it this way. If there was a computer algorithm that could always accurately determine whether AI was right or wrong, it would be the AI algorithm!

Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and anyone else who produces AI assistants that use machine learning algorithms to recognize speech or detect objects in images or video or almost anything else do so. They listen to your assistant questions, they look at your photos, they look at your security cameras.

Black.


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