Checkmarx researchers including Erez Yalon have created a "rogue Alexa skill" that bypasses Amazon's security checks: it lurks silently and unkillably in the background of your Alexa, listening to all speech in range of it and transcribing it, then exfiltrating the text and audio of your speech to the attacker.
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Cartoonist Lauren eLL secretly recorded a funny family video, then turned it into a charming cartoon about how Alexa Ruins Families. Read the rest
Inspired by the $6,000 Alexa-controlled toilet at CES, Jonathan Gleich hacked together his own one-tenth the cost. The base of this smart throne is the Brondell Swash 1400 Luxury Bidet Toilet Seat, available for $650 from Amazon. The other components are a $46 auto flusher, $23 infrared link, and $17 Adafruit Feather HUZZAH microcontroller.
Gleich posted directions to make your own over at Instructables: "Alexa Controlled Toilet"
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Every three years, the US Copyright Office asks for proposals for exemptions to Section 1201 of the DMCA, which bans breaking DRM; in 2015, the Electronic Frontier Foundation won a broad "jailbreaking" exemption to modify the firmware of phones and tablets; this year, we're asking for that permission to be extended to smart speakers like Alexa/Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePods, and the smaller players in the market.
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My home is lightly blanketed with Amazon Echo Dot listening stations. I tried to use Alexa, the digital assistant to re-order my favorite black tea. Now I am ready for the zombie apocalypse. Read the rest
This appears to be surveilling AI chatboxes set up to debate the fine points of constitutional law. It's presumably based on a transcript of an interaction between a sovereign citizen and a cop, but I'm not sure which one as all such interactions are nearly identical (sovcit patter is extremely rigid, and the cops adopt the firm-but-polite bemusement reserved for angry white people).
In other surveilling AI chatbox news, Google admitted yesterday that their newest surveilling AI chatboxes, including those sent to journalists to review, have a "bug" whereby they record audio 24/7. Read the rest
This owl shaped Echo Dot holder lives in my bathroom.
I'm addicted to Echo Dot. I keep one in my office, one in the kitchen, and now one in my bathroom. I treat the Dots like radios and listen to the news briefing and podcasts.
This is my kitchen owl.
Zehui Owl Shape Smart Home Guard Owl Statue Crafted Guard Station for Echo Dot via Amazon Read the rest
I liked this owl and wanted it on my kitchen counter, so I purchased an Echo dot. Read the rest
The Echo Look is the next version of the Alexa appliance: it has an camera hooked up to a computer vision system, along with its always-on mic, and the first application for it is to watch you as you dress and give you fashion advice (that is, recommend clothes you can order from Amazon). Read the rest
An amusing, slightly unsettling video. Just a glitch, right? Read the rest
Television anchors on San Diego's CW6 were discussing how a young girl "accidentally" ordered a dollhouse and four pounds of cookies by talking to Amazon's Alexa when one of the anchors said "I love the little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse." Oops. From CW6 San Diego:
As soon as (anchor Jim) Patton said that, viewers all over San Diego started complaining their echo devices had tried to order doll houses...
Amazon says shopping settings can be managed via its Alexa app, including turning off voice purchasing and creating a confirmation code before any order.
The company also says any “accidental” physical orders can be returned for free.
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I didn't think an IoT voice assistant was for me, but at $50 I couldn't resist the Amazon Echo Dot. I'm finding Alexa to be handy for lots of little things.
Amazon's hockey puck like Echo Dot gives you all the utility of their personal assistant Alexa at pretty low price. I felt it wouldn't be too much of a disaster if the thing never got used. Thus far it is proving to be pretty handy.
Echo Dot pairs with bluetooth speakers pretty well, and I enjoy being able to voice control my radio. Switching between news, music and podcasts is easy. I've found that this alone makes Echo Dot useful to me. Being able to occasionally stop the sound and ask Alexa for time time, weather in San Francisco or other simple, frequent searches one may perform is strangely satisfying, and temporarily provides an 'I live in the future' feeling.
Next up will be syncing it with my Fitbit, tho I'm not sure what that is really going to do for me.
Echo Dot (2nd Generation) - Black via Amazon Read the rest