Amazon has introduced the new Echo Look. This is a new feature of the Echo and its personal assistant Alexa that looks at you and tells you when your fashion choices are acceptable. And it will sell you better clothing. What could possibly go wrong? For one thing, you might want to never take your clothes off in the same room with the device. And think about how much information Amazon can gather with a full-length picture of you in your home.
This might seem overly speculative or alarmist to some, but Amazon isn’t offering any reassurance that they won’t be doing more with data gathered from the Echo Look. When asked if the company would use machine learning to analyze users’ photos for any purpose other than fashion advice, a representative simply told The Verge that they “can’t speculate” on the topic. The rep did stress that users can delete videos and photos taken by the Look at any time, but until they do, it seems this content will be stored indefinitely on Amazon’s servers.
This non-denial means the Echo Look could potentially provide Amazon with the resource every AI company craves: data. And full-length photos of people taken regularly in the same location would be a particularly valuable dataset — even more so if you combine this information with everything else Amazon knows about its customers (their shopping habits, for one). But when asked whether the company would ever combine these two datasets, an Amazon rep only gave the same, canned answer: “Can’t speculate.”