Why does Google offer Google Voice, a program that allows you to make phone calls at no cost from your computer? Why does Google offer any service for free? To get information about you. Specifically, they need to analyze your voice to perfect their voice-recognition algorithms.
Google’s director of research, Peter Norvig, has told New Scientist that one of the reasons they launched their audio service, Google Voice, (not available in the UK or maybe not anywhere out of the US) is that they needed more human voice data to perfect their algorithms. (The article is not online for non-subscribers yet, but is on page 26 of the current print edition).
Norvig describes the general approach of Google to cracking some of the most difficult problems of artificial intelligence – “big data, simple algorithms”.
But is Google listening? Of course not, they say.
Norvig tells interviewer Peter Aldhous that nobody is actually listening to your voice when you leave a message with Google Voice (which then translates the voice into an email) – it’s all automated. But as Alhous states it is the sort of thing that has contributed to an unease about Google and its hunger for data.
Just like Google, and Apple, are not tracking your location. Oh, wait?