Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon devices, announces the Echo Dot in 2018. Photo: Grant Hindsley/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon employees listen to, transcribe and annotate Echo users' interactions with the smart speaker in order to "eliminate gaps in Alexa’s understanding of human speech and help it better respond to commands," Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant, may "live in the cloud," according to Amazon's advertisements, but this work highlights the vital role humans still play in training software algorithms for smart devices — and how many users might be unaware of such work.

The big question: "[T]he recordings ... don’t provide a user's full name and address but are associated with an account number, as well as the user's first name and the device’s serial number," according to Bloomberg.

How it works: The recordings from Echo users' homes and offices are parsed by a team of contractors and full-time Amazon employees who review up to 1,000 audio clips per day, operating under non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from speaking publicly on the work.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 19,680,042 — Total deaths: 727,777 — Total recoveries — 11,962,565Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,002,523 — Total deaths: 162,455 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Nancy Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on employment — Trump adviser Larry Kudlow says he regrets suggesting the benefits could only be extended by Congress.
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — Poll: 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Schools: Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral — How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.