There’s a lot Apple’s done to improve the Siri voice assistant since its launch in 2011. The company’s , like calling an Uber or looking up a dictionary term. Apple’s also . Still, it needs to check to make sure Siri’s getting things right.
A team of contractors around the world reportedly listens to a random, small subset of the recordings Siri hears after people push its activation button or say “Hey Siri,” according to a new report in the Guardian newspaper. The contractors then grade how Siri responded, identifying when it misunderstands what people say or activates at the wrong time.
The recordings don’t have identifiable information, Apple told the paper, and they’re analyzed in secure facilities. “All reviewers are under the obligation to adhere to Apple’s strict confidentiality requirements,” the company added. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for further comment.
Apple’s attempts to improve Siri aren’t much different from Amazon and Google, who similarly ask reviewers to analyze some recordings as well. Each of the companies say it’s a key way to help improve their systems.
“This information helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone,”.
“This is a critical part of the process of building speech technology, and is necessary to creating products like the Google Assistant,” Google said earlier this month.
But Appleas at a time when tech companies, including Facebook and Google, are under increased scrutiny for how they . The Guardian’s sources, though, said the recordings they heard included “private discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, seemingly criminal dealings, sexual encounters and so on.”
CNET’s Corinne Reichert contributed to this report.