philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Stanford Team Aims at Alexa and Siri With a Privacy-Minded Alternative

The group at Stanford, led by Monica Lam, a computer systems designer, last month received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant is for an internet service they hope will serve as a Switzerland of sorts for systems that use human language to control computers, smartphones and internet devices in homes and offices.

The researchers’ biggest concern is that virtual assistants, as they are designed today, could have a far greater impact on consumer information than today’s websites and apps. Putting that information in the hands of one big company or a tiny clique, they say, could erase what is left of online privacy.

The system from Dr. Lam’s group is called Almond. In a recent paper, they argued for an approach in which virtual assistant software is decentralized and connected by programming standards that will make it possible for consumers to choose where their information is stored and how it is shared.

A first version of the service was released last year, and the Stanford researchers are now trying to build an alliance with larger technology and consumer companies.

merlin_155267160_67a82178-de2f-4a01-8bd9-35c8428de2ae-superJumboThey also hope Almond can leapfrog existing virtual assistant systems in its ability to understand complex language.

Dr. Lam said the threat to privacy cannot be overstated. For example, she noted that Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas last year installed Amazon Echo devices in rooms.

“Once they said that what happens in Las Vegas stays there,” she said. “Now that’s no longer necessarily true. Now it might end up in Seattle.”

See the full story here;

Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Trackbacks are disabled.