Long-press the Action button to bring up Cortana.

Long-press the Action button to bring up Cortana. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Here we go again. It's Microsoft's turn in the spotlight thanks to a new report about the company's practices for reviewing and improving its AI. With today's news, nearly every company operating a major voice assistant has now been hit with revelations that employees or contractors are hearing recordings made by the AI's users.

The Microsoft news takes a slightly different spin than the recent allegations faced by Apple, Google, and Amazon. A whistleblower informed Motherboard that contractors are reviewing recordings not just with the company's Cortana assistant but also conversations conducted on its Skype service.

At least some of the audio files the contractor shared with Motherboard were made by the Translator feature in the Skype Android app. Translator, which Microsoft launched in 2015, uses conversation snippets to improve its understanding of language and natural speech. The FAQ for Translator notes that audio recorded by Microsoft is used in this way, but it doesn't explicitly state that people are the ones listening to and reviewing the audio.

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