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It might be in your best interest not to discuss these topics with voice assistants

If you’re thinking about snacking on some wild berries, it’s best not to rely on voice assistants for advice.

Amazon Echo speaker configured for the Alexa voice assistant. Image © Tim Sandle.
Amazon Echo speaker configured for the Alexa voice assistant. Image © Tim Sandle.

Many of us have come to rely on voice assistants. Devices such as Siri and Alexa are increasingly common to homes and offices. Digital assistants use advanced artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing, natural language understanding, and machine learning to learn as they go and provide a personalized, conversational experience.

Such devices are reasonably effective for for things like checking the weather or setting a timer while cooking. However, it might not be such a good idea to rely on them in more serious situations.

Joe Davies, a tech expert from Ask Optimo has told Digital Journal about six things to avoid asking voice assistants if you want to protect your privacy and ensure a smooth experience.

Don’t ask voice assistants to perform any banking tasks

Although voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant can conduct basic financial functions such as connecting to banks or credit apps, there are many security issues with voice data.

Davies cautions: “Savvy cybercriminals can easily capture and steal your recorded voice and drain or transfer money from your accounts, all remotely. If voice recognition is your primary security measure, it’s hardly sufficient.”

Don’t ask voice assistants to be your telephone operator

Davies advises to be cautious when asking voice assistants to find and dial a number for you.

 This is because: “Scammers are faking customer service numbers, pushing them up to the top of the internet search results so there’s a higher chance people will call them by mistake.”

Don’t ask voice assistants for any medical advice

Obtaining health information regarding any symptoms, remedies or a possible diagnosis should be avoided as voice assistants can provide a simplistic or inaccurate response from an unreliable or unnamed source.

Don’t ask voice assistants for any illegal or harmful activities

Law enforcement can listen in on what you do on your devices. Asking questions about hiding a body or buying illegal drugs leaves a trail that can be used against you if you get in trouble with the law later on.

Don’t ask Siri if you can eat a certain plant

Davies warns: “If you’re thinking about snacking on some wild berries, it’s best not to rely on voice assistants for advice. Online information about which plants and foods are poisonous can be inconsistent, and following their guidance might end up with you needing medical attention.”

Don’t ask voice assistants to clear your search history, delete an app or remove photos

Davies cautions: “Avoid using voice assistants to delete your search history, applications, or photos as misunderstandings can occur, leading to the accidental removal of crucial data.

It’s advisable to take the additional time to handle these tasks manually to prevent any regrettable losses.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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