First Facebook, then Google, Apple, and Amazon. Now, Microsoft has admitted that they do actively listen to people’s private conversation via Skype.

What all these companies have in common is that they all lie to their users and they only admit to spying on people if there is irrefutable proof they do so.

As we informed last week, Apple uses Siri to listen to your audios. Amazon uses Alexa to do the same, and Google, in addition to spying on users, actively censors content which does not meet its political ideology.

Now, it is the time for US software giant Microsoft. The company joined the rest of the big technology giants and admitted that it “listens” to recordings of some of the conversations that users have with their personal assistant Cortana or with the Skype communication service.

Microsoft did not issue an official statement or directly addressed the issue, but merely updated its online privacy policy to add that in order to improve the service part of some conversations are heard by humans or machines.

In the case of Skype Microsoft supposedly only listens to voice recordings of Internet users when they interact with the translation service of the platform, while in Cortana they are limited to interactions between the user and the voice assistant.

The logic behind this practice is that despite the advances in artificial intelligence, the technology on which both services are based, human intervention is still necessary from time to time to find possible failures and contribute to the improvement of the quality.

Artificial intelligence is based on automated learning systems, whereby the machine “learns” to process information and “think” like a human, but for this, it needs examples that serve as a sample from which it can develop patterns that will allow to create a logical model.

In fact, if an error made by an artificial intelligence system is not detected for a long time, automated learning could make the machine assume that error as something correct and on which to base future decisions, which would further worsen its operation.

Everyone listens to conversations

Since the beginning of July, when Belgian press published that people hired by Google were listening to some of the interactions that users have with the company’s virtual assistant, there are several technology giants that have admitted to carrying out similar practices.

Microsoft’s revelations are now added to those of Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook. These are practices that have been done since the moment these services were put into operation and are known within the sector, but that these companies had not communicated precisely or transparently to the public.

Big Tech giants have reacted differently: while Google and Apple announced that they will suspend the program while taking time to review it, Microsoft has chosen to continue with it but make clear in the usage policy that they are carrying it out.

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