Big Brother is listening
Home Assistants seem to be a staple in an American’s daily lives nowadays, the two most popular being Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. These Home Assistants greatly benefit a consumer’s lives by performing tasks for them just through a voice command. Through the use of AI, home assistants learn to adapt to the user’s preferences, to provide a greater experience for the user. Of course, the invention of this product has provided humans with great convenience, however, a growing concern from consumers is whether these home assistants are listening to our every move, and what they are doing with the information?
This reminds me of a video I have watched, titled ‘Is Google always listening’. In the video, the man talked about buying dog toys for his nonexistent dog by his computer, without doing anything explicitly on his computer. Next, he went online, and the advertisements on the side were showing links for him to purchase said dog toys. I can confirm that this phenomenon is true, because I was discussing a company with my friend by the computer one day, and the next thing I knew was that there were advertisements from that company all over the websites I visited. To a consumer, this can be extremely creepy, but they have to understand that home assistants are also always listening since they have to listen for the ‘wake word’, like ‘Alexa’.
On a different light, there was a murder case, where Echo was able to provide evidence that the case was, in fact, a murder, and not an accident, due to recordings on the Echo, and also the suspect’s smart water heater. This shows how AI and IoT are not only always listening, but heavily integrated into our lives. So much that either the murderer was careless, or he didn’t even think of avoiding using the smart water heater because it would provide evidence to the case.
As for safety, Amazon actually allows users to delete their recordings online, whether or not Amazon actually listens to all conversations going on in your living room, and what they do with it, we will not know. With the connectivity of IoT, it is almost inevitable that companies will easily be able to gather all sorts of data, from your sleeping habits to how often you bathe. If you are really cautious about companies gathering your data and insist on staying off the grid, the best option nowadays is to avoid owning any sort of technological device.