Amazon's Alexa Is Always Listening

In this segment of the Sept. 14 MarketFoolery podcast, Mark Reeth and Million Dollar Portfolio's Jason Moser opine about whether the idea of Alexa as a digital spy is going to concern enough people to matter to the average user, and where this type of tech is headed.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on Sept. 14, 2016

Mark Reeth: @thekie3, that's K-I-E 3, what's your take on Alexa, always on and listening, privacy concerns? Alexa, for those out there who don't know, it's the little speaker that Amazon has put out where you can make orders to Amazon, you can ask it questions and it'll answer. You can also listen to the Motley Fool flash briefings. That's right. I'm going to use this tweet as a chance to plug something that we've just started here at the Motley Fool. We've got our flash briefings, which is an app you can use if you're an Alexa user. You can say, "Hey Alexa, what are stocks doing today?" My voice, or more preferable, Chris Hill's voice will come on and let you know and tell you what the news of the day is, so check it out: Motley Fool flash briefings, but enough shilling. Jay Moe, what's your take on Alexa always on and listening? Are privacy concerns really going to hold people back from buying Alexas?

Jason Moser: It probably will hold some people back. I don't think it'll, at the end of the day, have an affect on the majority of people. We've had an echo in our house for probably two years now, and I've had a lot of fun using it. You can ask Alexa to play Market Foolery. You can ask her to play music that's in your Prime music library. I even hooked up our living room lights to our echo, so that I can say, "Alexa, turn on the living room lights."

Mark: Really?

Jason: They turn on as if they were magic.

Mark: But she's always listening.

Jason: She's always listening, apparently. I don't know. I feel like at this point, listen, Mark, I'm not a terrorist and I draw the line there. I feel like I'm not in my home planning anything terribly nefarious and we're not doing anything illegal, so if you're going to be listening into my home, you're going to be sorely disappointed very quickly.

Mark: You're just getting to get bored.

Jason: You're going to hear me yell at my dog maybe for taking a dump on the floor, and that's about the size of it, but I think that some people will probably have a little bit of a problem with that, and I get it. That's totally fine. You're going to have to make that decision for yourself, because I can tell you this: as time goes on, this is only going to spread. These types of devices are here to stay and whether it's the Echo on your house or your car or your phone or if you have a smart watch. Everywhere you go now, you're connected and being recorded and listened to. It's just the world we live in. Technology giveth and it taketh away, you're going to have to make your own decision there. For me, personally, the Echo...we've got a lot more enjoyment out of it, and I just don't put this really up there as a problem.

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