Stanford University researchers are designing voice-operated virtual assistants that give users more control over personal information.
Stanford's Monica Lam leads development of Almond, a virtual-assistant system running on decentralized software, connected by coding standards to let consumers choose where their data is stored and how it is shared.
The researchers' biggest concern is that giving a major company such as Amazon or Apple monopolistic access to consumer data through their respective virtual assistants could erase what is left of online privacy.
The Stanford team aims to make its software freely available to smartphone, computer, and consumer appliance users.
The team also is pushing consumer-product manufacturers to link their devices to Almond via a Wikipedia-like service called Thingpedia, a shared database in which any manufacturer or Internet service could specify how its product or service would engage with the virtual assistant.
From The New York Times
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