Smart devices are listening to more than our words

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This episode was originally published May 17, 2021.

Picture this: You’re not feeling so hot and you say to your smart speaker, “Robot, I’m hungry,” and you cough. And the device says, “Would you like a recipe for chicken soup?” And then, “By the way, would you like to order cough drops with one-hour delivery?” This is the scenario laid out in one of Amazon’s patents. And it shows how voice recognition technology could be used to learn things about us, beyond the words we say to our devices. Like whether we’re sick or depressed. Marketplace’s Amy Scott speaks with Joe Turow, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who writes about all of this in his new book “The Voice Catchers: How Marketers Listen In to Exploit Your Feelings, Your Privacy, and Your Wallet.”

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