Tired of technology spying on you? Here’s how you can stop ‘them’ from listening in

Technology is without a doubt a boon for all of us. Everything is so much easier. Hungry? Food ordering is a cinch with the many food ordering applications, where you can, of course, order pie. Too lazy to go to the market, everything is available online. You don’t even have to get up to switch off the lights. Technology like Alexa, Siri and Cortana will help you there too. But as they say, every coin has two sides and the negative side of technology is the loss of privacy. Everything we do online leaves a trace. The data can be used to create a profile of our likes and dislikes and predict our actions. What’s more, the technology boom has also given rise to spyware, which is always listening to us.

Has it ever happened to you that you’re talking about something with someone, and soon you start seeing ads for that product? That’s the work of spyware.

Home devices such as Amazon’s Echo, Google Home have been accused of recording our conversations. And if reports are to be believed even your office computer systems may contain “bosswares” that are employed by bosses to listen to their employees.

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Is all this information scaring you? Who would want to be spied on? We all have things we don’t want “them” to know.

Playing loud music or having running water in the background is one method to protect your interactions, but let’s be honest, these ways will be distracting.

We may soon be able to go unnoticed with the help of Neural Voice Camouflage technology, which boasts of being whisper-quiet and resists ‘surveillance.

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Researchers at Columbia Engineering have created this breakthrough system that generates noises that can be played in any setting, in any situation. This will prevent smart devices from spying on you. 

The method it employs generates custom audio noise in the background as you speak, which serves to confuse the AI listening in.

It basically uses AI to fool another AI. The strategy uses machine learning, finding patterns in data to tweak sounds in such a way that the spy AI mistakes them for something else.

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Making it all function fast enough was a crucial technological problem, said Carl Vondrick, assistant professor of computer science.

“Our algorithm, which manages to block a rogue microphone from correctly hearing your words 80% of the time, is the fastest and the most accurate on our testbed.”

“It works even when we don’t know anything about the rogue microphone, such as the location of it, or even the computer software running on it. It basically camouflages a person’s voice over-the-air, hiding it from these listening systems, and without inconveniencing the conversation between people in the room.”

(With inputs from agencies)


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