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Apple Will Continue to Review Computer-Generated Siri Transcripts Regardless of Opt-In Status

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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Apple has published a new support document with several questions and answers about its Siri quality evaluation process, also known as grading, to address any privacy concerns that customers may have.


As a refresher, it was recently discovered that Apple hired contractors to listen to a small percentage of anonymized Siri recordings -- and review their corresponding computer-generated transcripts -- to measure how well Siri was responding and to improve the assistant's accuracy and reliability.

The human review process likely existed for quite some time, but it was never mentioned in Apple's privacy policy, and it only became the subject of controversy last month after The Guardian reported that contractors "regularly" heard "confidential details" while listening to the Siri audio recordings.

Following that report, Apple quickly suspended its grading program and conducted a review of its policies. Apple has since apologized over the matter and says it will resume the evaluation process in the fall on an opt-in basis with improved privacy measures, including no longer retaining audio recordings.

In its FAQ, however, Apple says it will continue to review anonymized computer-generated transcripts of Siri interactions, even from users who do not opt in. The only way to avoid this will be to disable Siri entirely:
Is the only way for Siri not to retain my audio recordings and transcripts to disable Siri?

By default, Apple will no longer retain audio of your Siri requests, starting with a future software release in fall 2019. Computer-generated transcriptions of your audio requests may be used to improve Siri. These transcriptions are associated with a random identifier, not your Apple ID, for up to six months. If you do not want transcriptions of your Siri audio recordings to be retained, you can disable Siri and Dictation in Settings.
Prior to suspending grading, Apple says it reviewed less than 0.2 percent of Siri interactions and corresponding computer-generated transcripts.

As for users that do opt in, Apple says it has updated its review process to limit graders' exposure to audio recordings that are determined to have resulted from Siri being triggered inadvertently. Apple is also making changes to minimize the amount of data that the graders have access to:
When you say you are minimizing the amount of data reviewers have access to, what does that mean? What will they still be able to hear?

We are making changes to the human grading process to further minimize the amount of data reviewers have access to, so that they see only the data necessary to effectively do their work. For example, the names of the devices and rooms you setup in the Home app will only be accessible by the reviewer if the request being graded involves controlling devices in the home.
Apple says it will work to delete any recording which is determined to have resulted from Siri being triggered inadvertently.

The changes to Siri will be implemented in a future iOS update released this fall, which will likely introduce a toggle switch for grading. For more details, read Apple's support document and its related press release.

Article Link: Apple Will Continue to Review Computer-Generated Siri Transcripts Regardless of Opt-In Status
 

topgunn

macrumors 65816
Nov 5, 2004
1,495
1,704
Houston
Pro tip: Assume everything you are doing will eventually be found out. Be upfront with information like this from the beginning. Most people don't care about these things as long as you are clear about what you are doing with data, why it is necessary, and how you can opt out if desired.
 
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pdaholic

macrumors 65816
Jun 22, 2011
1,344
1,230
I don't recall the last time I used Siri for anything
I’m sure you will get criticism on this site for your comment, but I totally agree with you. Like Apple Maps, I repeatedly tried using Siri early in its lifespan, and both were inferior to other options. I just don’t use either anymore. Every now and then I try to make a reminder using Siri on my Apple Watch, half the time waiting for it to “tap me when it’s ready.” Swing and a miss.
 
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AppleHaterLover

macrumors 68020
Jun 15, 2018
2,040
2,044
Siri is required for CarPlay, for some reason. I never EVER use Siri, but have it enabled for this sole reason.
 
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69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,640
14,481
In between a rock and a hard place
Now that it’s documented, all concerned should be okay with this. Right?
Since it's documented in plain language, made to be opt-in, and explained before they start it up again... I'm okay with this. Can't speak for anyone else. I've always understood the reasoning for it, just never agreed with how they 1. disclosed it with ambiguous language (Apple, Google, Amazon, FB, etc.) and 2. made it opt-out by default (to Google's credit, they did have it as opt-in)

How 'bout you? You satisfied or were you always okay with it?
 
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I7guy

macrumors Penryn
Nov 30, 2013
24,673
12,701
Gotta be in it to win it
Since it's documented in plain language, made to be opt-in, and explained before they start it up again... I'm okay with this. Can't speak for anyone else. I've always understood the reasoning for it, just never agreed with how they 1. disclosed it with ambiguous language (Apple, Google, Amazon, FB, etc.) and 2. made it opt-out by default (to Google's credit, they did have it as opt-in)

How 'bout you? You satisfied or were you always okay with it?
I was always okay with it as I never thought my personal info would end up outside Apple. Although a better and more user friendly process is always better, that I wholeheartedly agree with.
 
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dannyyankou

macrumors G3
Mar 2, 2012
9,989
18,860
Westchester, NY
The article says the testing will be opt-in. Even better.
I think you're mixed up, the ability for employees to listen to audio samples will be opt-in. Employees will still be able to read all computer-generated transcripts, and there's no way to opt-out of this.
[doublepost=1567013513][/doublepost]
Did I miss something in the article? What does the opt-in do if they still listen on my recordings?
It's opt-in for only for audio recordings, they can review text transcripts with people that don't opt in.
 
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69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,640
14,481
In between a rock and a hard place
I think you're mixed up, the ability for employees to listen to audio samples will be opt-in. Employees will still be able to read all computer-generated transcripts, and there's no way to opt-out of this.
There is always the nuclear option. Turn off Siri and Dictation. Your current usage of Siri will be the determining factor in how much you'd miss it.
 
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Apple Freak

macrumors regular
May 22, 2009
124
133
As a regular Siri user I'm okay with this, especially now that it's better documented. The fact is that if we want technology to get better humans have to be involved in the process.
 
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apolloa

Suspended
Oct 21, 2008
12,318
7,798
Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
What you do on your iPhone stays on your iPhone... unless you use Siri in which case though! Apple will listen to what you say..

Oh how the tables turn, I’m pretty sure Google and Amazon do NOT do this if you opt out! Apple is the worst spying on you out of the lost!

And thanks Mac Rumors for highlighting how this listening to Siri recordings was NOT in the T’s & C’s as people in here were attempting to claim otherwise to defend Apple.

Their really is no defence against this, Apple WILL spy on you and Siri will still be useless and no where near as advanced as the competitors.

This is the main issue, Apple has obviously been listening to recordings for quite sometime, the whole idea behind that is to improve the AI, yet Siri is, well, useless. They hark on about all this apparent privacy, whilst listening to your recordings. And apparently the reason Siri is so poor is because it won’t off load commands to the cloud or something like true others do.

Yet they will listen or read what you say to it’s AI regardless? Isn’t it about time Apple just did what all the others do, so Siri actually works? I mean it’s been listening to you the same as the others do..

Apple’s heavily publicised privacy stance really is nothing more then a giant slap of hypocrisy to its customers IMO.
 
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interessiert

macrumors regular
Nov 11, 2012
154
118
The problem is clear for everybody: Apple has not enough and not the best programmers – as nearly same far behind in comparison to other companies like Google (Maps) and Facebook (ugly and tricky business with private data from participants of FB or WhatApp).

In Maps Apple will have nearly no chance to catch up – with Siri they are more narrow behind competitors and hopefully they accelerate their efforts with final success.

BUT:
They also should improve macOS and iOS: There are waiting a lot of BUGs in macOS (MAIL, FINDER) :rolleyes: and they could improve many small steps in these Apps like MAIL, FINDER, CALENDAR to make our working flow more effective... ;)

Please DO! :apple: :)
 
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macguru212

Contributor
Apr 17, 2009
427
827
NYC/Tokyo
All Apple will get from my Siri transcriptions is pretty much like this:


Siri, turn on the lights.

Siri - TURN ON THE LIGHTS.

SIRI!! TURN ON THE LIGHTS DAMMIT!!!

I found these results on the web...
 
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Khedron

macrumors 68020
Sep 27, 2013
2,155
4,241
Wow Apple can't even make a simple promise to stop listening without permission without soon after having to backtrack that they'll still use your recordings anyway
[doublepost=1567017748][/doublepost]
They're not listening to your recordings if you're opted-out, they're reading text that a computer created from the recording.

Next week: "We didn't say anything about not copying your recordings to cassette tape and then playing that back to analyse..."
 
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schneeland

macrumors member
May 22, 2017
32
46
Darmstadt, Germany
There is always the nuclear option. Turn off Siri and Dictation. Your current usage of Siri will be the determining factor in how much you'd miss it.

That would be an option if you didn't have to turn on Siri for CarPlay. This is really the only reason why I turned it on.

To be correct though, I "use" Siri more often: it is repeatedly triggered when I am on the phone speaking English, even though I have trained it in German and I never use the activation phrase. This unintended activation is really the most annoying part of the whole thing.
 
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