Microsoft today announced built-in support for Cortana—an artificial intelligence-powered smart assistant—in Skype messenger on Android as well as iOS devices.
What purpose does it serve?
Microsoft wants its AI-based smart assistance to understand your conversations and help you with quick suggestions, ideas and information right inside your chat window.
“Cortana can also help you organize your day—no need to leave your conversations. Cortana can detect when you’re talking about scheduling events or things you have to do and will recommend setting up a reminder, which you will receive on all your devices that have Cortana enabled,” Skype said in a blog post.
In other words, it typically means — Microsoft’s Cortana can now read your private Skype conversations.
Should You Worry About Your Privacy?
Yes, Cortana needs continuous monitoring of your private chats in order to come up with useful suggestions such as movie bookings, travel plans, nearby restaurants, scheduled meetings and so on.
Obviously, this feature would be a severe concern for privacy-conscious people, knowing that someone else is continuously reading their private conversations with their friends or family or secret business plans with their colleagues even if Cortana has good intentions.
So should you be worried about this? It depends.
The answer is—NO for those who are already using Skype. Since conversations over skype are not end-to-end encrypted, Microsoft already has access to all your private communications in plain text, and you have nothing to hide from the company.
The answer is—YES for those who are new to Skype and impressed with the idea of artificial intelligence-based smart assistant but care more about their privacy.
How to Activate Cortana for Intelligent Skype Chats?
Currently, Cortana support for Skype is only available for American users, and it is optional, and you need to turn the assistant on your mobile device manually.
To activate and allow Cortana to read all your chats and help you intelligently, you need to follow the below steps:
- Upgrade to latest version of Skype for Android or iOS
- Tap on Cortana from your chat window
- Start chatting with her, and it will ask for one-time permissions
- Select Agree, and that is it.
In-chat assistance is not a new concept. Google Allo and Facebook messenger app have already introduced AI-based personal assistant for chats, but naturally, these features come with privacy trade-offs.
Despite being opt-in, these intelligent in-chat assistants, including Cortana for Skype, could be easily used to spy on your interests for targeted advertisements.
Do you feel it is worth the risk to have AI-based quick replies and suggestion for calendar entries?
Let us know in the comments below.