Alexa will soon start to listen if you are crying or if it sounds like you have a sore throat and then cater advertising based on your physical and emotional state. Amazon patented a technology that will let Alexa analyze your voice to figure out if you are sick or excited or depressed and sell you products based on it.
The patent, titled “Voice-based determination of physical and emotional characteristics of users,” was issued last week. It is for a “voice processing algorithm” to determine a user’s emotional state. The voice analysis would be able to detect “happiness, joy, Aanger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress, or other emotional states.”
The voice assistant can detect “abnormal” physical or emotional conditions. “For example, physical conditions such as sore throats and coughs may be determined based at least in part on a voice input from the user, and emotional conditions such as an excited emotional state or a sad emotional state may be determined based at least in part on voice input from a user,” the patent says. “A cough or sniffle, or crying, may indicate that the user has a specific physical or emotional abnormality.”
The new patent comes shortly after Amazon had to scrap an internal A.I. system for hiring that was discriminating against women. Some worry the lack of transparency in these new technologies could lead to problems with privacy and safety, others point to the possibility of exploiting people in vulnerable mental states, pointing to language in the patent that, “A current physical and/or emotional condition of the user may facilitate the ability to provide highly targeted audio content, such as audio advertisements or promotions, to the user.”
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