Our Virtual world – Data Cars Are Collecting – The Truth About Amazon Alexa Monitoring: AS HEARD ON WGAN: [04-17-19]


On This Episode…

Are we living in a virtual world? Is Amazon spying on us? Is your car watching you? Find out more as Craig discusses these topics with Ken and Matt on the WGAN Morning News this Wednesday morning.

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Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.

Airing date: 04/17/2019

Our Virtual world – Data Cars Are Collecting – The Truth About Amazon Alexa Monitoring

Craig Peterson  0:00 
Good morning, everybody. I expect I’ll be doing a couple of It’s a Security Thing podcasts this week. So make sure you check back. Today I was on with Ken and Matt. And we reviewed of course the articles in the news this week we talked about the cars and the amount of data they are collecting on us right now. We spent a little bit of time talking about this whole what’s happening with virtual reality thing and, you know, a couple of other topics came up as well. So here we go with Ken and Matt.

Matt Gagnon 0:34
Alright, here we go. It is 7:38 on the WGAN Morning News on Wednesday morning. And Craig Peterson joins us as he typically does on this day to go over what’s happening in the world of technology Craig Peterson. Welcome to the program, sir.

Craig 0:46
Hey, he does you know, I remember back in the, must have been 74, 75 driving down the Decarie expressway in Montreal and having the axle in our car come out the side rear axle. And it was hanging out about two and a half three feet almost ready to completely come out. So we didn’t just almost lose a tire or lose a tire. We almost lost the whole wheel and the actual want to happen to be actual came out of our car. That would, let me tell you that was quite a quite an event because the Decarie expressway was was a very busy back then in the mid 70s.

Ken Altshuler 1:28
How did the wheel on the other side stay on if your axle came out that far?

Craig 1:34
What is the differential in the rear right, rear wheel drive car. So there’s really two axles and so the one on the left side somehow the bearing went and became detached from the differential and slid it out. Man, that’ll wake you up.

Ken 1:51
Yes, it will. Speaking of waking up, Craig Peterson. I thought that Alexa, can’t listen to what’s going on in your house?

Craig 2:02
Yeah, you know, there’s been a lot of bad reporting on this. And you know, other than us right here, I think most stations tend to report things incorrectly. Knee jerk. Let me put it that way.

Matt 2:15  
Are you calling people a fake news?

Craig 2:16 
Fake news? Yeah, exactly. It’s been all over the place just last week. So I’m not surprised you kind of caught up top this one Ken. But here’s what they’re saying. They’re saying they’re complaining that the Alexa is listening to you. And worse than than Amazon’s people are listening to you. Here’s the bottom line on this. And here’s what’s really happening. If you develop some software, you have to test it. And one of the things I never worked on was voice recognition software. I worked on signature recognition analysis, but never voice. Always a very difficult thing to do. And frankly, I am shocked and amazed how good voice recognition has become. Well, it’s become really good. Not because somehow computers have gotten smarter or faster, that has nothing really to do with it. voice recognition has gotten really good because people are analyzing what the computers are doing. So you, you know, breaks down the speech and tries to understand you. And you have to have a human come in afterwards, make sure that computer did it correctly. Maybe you flag something that you want people to listen to, because the person just kept asking basically the same thing and the computer couldn’t recognize it. So what’s going on here right now is Amazon has a team, a worldwide team, a global team. And they examine a small portion of the recordings that the Alexa has made of your commands. So Matt, for instance, how would you tell an Amazon device to tune in to the radio station this morning?

Matt 4:02
Alexa, tune in to WGAN.

Craig 4:07 
Exactly. And so now Alexa is going to tune in and you have a great radio announcer voice.

Ken 4:14 
He does.

Matt 4:14
Thank you, I appreciate that.

Ken 4:15
Nobody says that to me clearly.

Craig 4:18
So it would pick it up and it would handle it pretty darn well. But a lot of us kind of mumble and you know, our accents are there from other languages we might speak and things. So the Amazon Alexa, the workers are not sitting there listening to all of your conversations. What’s happening is a very small percentage of commands just like Matt gave, are analyzed by humans to make sure it’s doing the right things. And then they use that to tune up the Alexa to be able to appropriately answer questions or obey commands. Google does it with their Google Home systems, Siri does it. Apple does it with their systems, and the workers don’t have your name, your email address. They don’t know who you are. They have nothing personally identifiable about you. All they’re trying to do is make the speech recognition better. And they also if they hear something that might be considered suspicious, they do nothing with it, because they have no context. So people have been worried about that, too. And I can tell you, and you know, as an emergency medical professional for 10 years, I was a mandated reporter. And we had to report things that we thought were suspicious. Well, different people have different levels of suspicion. And we saw that in Blue Bloods, I love Blue Bloods on TV here this last week, where you have a woman who is there in a park and doesn’t like the way another mother is talking to her and teasing her about this other mother’s baby and stuff. So she reports it to the police and everything. So there’s different levels of suspicion. And all you’re hearing, when you’re examining this, when this team is listening to the audio, is a 10 second snippet, a maximum of 30 seconds that you can’t really tell what’s going on. So don’t worry about it. Yeah, they have it. Yeah, they’re keeping it Yeah, they’re analyzing it. But it bottom line, the best of my knowledge, even though it’s been called up as evidence in some court cases, it’s never actually been particularly valuable, other than in divorce cases.

Matt 6:32
All right, we’re talking to Craig Peterson. He is our tech guru. He joins us on Wednesdays at this time to go over what’s happening in the world of technology. And Craig, I rewatched The Matrix the other day. And I remember 1999, when that came out, which is now 20 years ago, my god in heaven, that it sparked a number of conversations between college philosophy majors about whether or not it was something that would show us that we actually did already live inside a simulation and whether or not The Matrix was real, and the movie was kind of showing us that reality, and so on and so forth. But this conversation is rearing its ugly head yet again, because there’s an argument being made right now that we are, in fact, living in a simulation. So Craig, I guess my question to you is, am I currently plugged into a computer somewhere living my life as a simulation?

Craig 7:17
Yeah, it’s a real interesting question. Oh, my gosh, I got into this in some detail on my podcast, too, because this is something that’s fascinated me for at least 25 years before it came out, The Matrix came out. Do you remember the same time? Do you remember two more movies that came out in 98, 99? The 13th Floor and Dark City?

Matt 7:38  
I remember both of those movies.

Craig 7:40
Yeah. All kind of the same thing. Well, here’s the bottom line on all this. I’ll make this pretty quick. We could go on for hours. But the basic thinking is, we have virtual reality right now. I’m sure Ken uses it every day as he’s playing his video games, right. And it’s getting better and better as we go forward. At some point, this is going to be better than, well, it’s much better than today. But it’s going to be as good as the real world you won’t be able to distinguish the real world from not it was even in the fifth, The 5th Day, right? Or The 6th Day. What was that Schwarzenegger movie?

Matt 8:22
I think it was the 6th Day wasn’t it?

Craig 8:24 
6th Day.

Matt 8:26 
And I remember when we’re talking about. Yeah. Not a lot of people remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie,

Craig 8:28
Well, the guy had a virtual girlfriend.

Matt 8:30 

Craig 8:30 
So it gets to that point. And our computers are fast enough to be able to simulate people just like they did in these movies, then what’s to say that some history major doesn’t create a program that spins up a society from 500, a thousand years ago, and lets the program run. Lets things happen within the program, to try and see how people might have acted a thousand years ago, or changing things just a little bit here or there. What would happen? Well, if any of that is possible, and it is all possible, there’s no question and then it’ll be extremely possible in another, certainly within 50 years, some people are saying 20 or 30 years, then what are the odds that what we are experiencing is real? And in other words, if there was one society that went all the way past where we’re at to indistinguishable virtual reality, to be able to create virtual reality, civilizations, what are the odds that we are that initial civilization, and not one of millions of likely virtual civilizations in the future? And so this is from an MIT science as he just came out with a book called The simulation hypothesis. There are quite a few books out about the same topic, but I love that, that title. And he is a computer scientist, Video game developer. He leads the Playlabs at MIT. And I’m assuming it’s a he. Yeah, it is a he. Rizwan Virk. R-I-Z-W-A-N Virk. So if he’s right, what does it mean to us? Does it matter? You know, does it all of a sudden change our lives in any way? They the answer’s no. It’s very interesting to think about that though, I agree with you Matt.

Ken 10:28
We are talking to our tech guru, Craig Peterson, who joins us every week at this time. 7:30 every Wednesdays. And you can go to http://CraigPeterson.com and get all this news all the time. Before we let you go, are you telling me now that my cars watching what I’m doing? I mean, I have no privacy in my car?

Craig 10:47  
None whatsoever.

Matt 10:49
You don’t have any privacy anywhere Ken. 

Unknown 10:51
I guess so.

Matt 10:52
This is America in 2019.

Craig 10:54
Well, you know, when you’re really good looking Matt, everyone’s watching.

Ken 10:54
Exactly, really?

Craig 10:55 
Yeah. Yeah, I’ve heard that anyways. Well, I didn’t realize this statistic. But cars now are capable, because really, it’s just a computer on wheels. In fact, that’s not even true. It is 20 to 30, at least computers on wheels in your car. And it can generate about 25 gigabytes of data every hour. Four terabytes a day. And they’re saying that in another 10 years, that data from our cars is going to be worth almost a trillion dollars. So the big question out there right now is who owns that data from our cars and and how private is it going to be? Because when we take our cars, and even now, they are plugged into a network and able for instance, with Mercedes, they have engineers in Germany, that examine the data in your car to try and figure out if there’s any issues, things you might not be aware of. Acura is doing some of those same things, many high end car brands are doing it and even lower end car brand are set up right now to plug your car into their computers, collect data and do some analysis. So who owns it? How private should it be? Could it be at this point in Europe, they have some laws that that aren’t specifically about this, but the GDPR does kind of cover it. California has a lot that goes into effect next year. And that law is going to try and keep this private information private. But as much as 10 years ago, I know speaking of Decarie expressway in Montreal, I know in Montreal on Sherbrooke, they pulled a car over because people had reported it as speeding. The police didn’t see it speed, but they pulled it over. They plugged a reader into that port in your car. And it reported that the car had within the last 10 minutes been doing 70 miles an hour on a city street and they issued a  ticket. So things to think about and maybe look forward to hear guys.

Matt 13:06 
All right. Craig Peterson, our tech guru joins us at this time every Wednesday. Appreciate it Craig as always. And we will talk to you again next week, sir.

Craig 13:15
Take care, guys. Bye Bye.

Ken 13:16
Thanks, Craig.

Craig 13:24
And I’ll be back tomorrow. Take care guys. Bye bye.


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