Privacy At your Own Expense
In 2013, google announced it was adding something new to its chrome browser; Voice recognition that you could activate by speaking a keyword. In 2014, apple updated its siri function to work a similar way. By asking Siri to do stuff like asking how's the weather or location. Siri will automatically recognize this and provide you information. Voice activation was a flashy new addition. But then a few months later. Amazon released something simpler. It was a voice- activated speaker. A product whose sole purpose was to interact with your voice. Amazon had to convince people that these things are actually useful in the household and it worked. Today every 1 and 5 American households has a smart speaker. Most of these in built speakers are made by amazon, google and apple. You can find Alexa or Siri in your ears; around your wrist, or just a finger and their technology doesn't just sit on table tops anymore. She's even in front of your eyeballs. You can also find smart-speakers built into remote controls, security cameras, and doorbells or in the form of an adorable tiger, so that it's easier for your kids to use and each alexa product can reportedly process 100,000 different commands. But all of this convenience does come at the expense of some of our privacy. So it's worth asking, what are we really giving up when we use one? The first thing to understand is that smart speakers aren't actually that smart. It probably seems like there's a lot more going on than there is. It's essentially a microphone that connects to the internet. When asking about the weather. Alexa is not gonna find the temperature it just records the questions and sends the recording to an amazon server which analyzes and it finds the temperature. What seems like a genius digital helper, it really is just a direct line to amazon.
If you forget your question, Amazon remembers it. If you go to your speaker settings, you can see that your recordings are actually saved. Until you delete them so unless you set it somehow differently, it will pretty much stay on their server indefinitely. According to a recent survey, almost half of smart-speaker owners incorrectly believed their audio was only saved temporarily or not at all and 47% thought it was unacceptable. Then there's the question of what they do with these recordings. I think most people don't really know what they do to send that recording to a server that other people can listen to. Which sounds like a creepy thing but it's for accuracy purposes to make sure that they are responding to the right things.However if you don't know that a possibility, you might not really like that. In fact 31 percent of people don't like that. We give them a lot of this data, we expose a ton of our information to them. I don't know what they're using it for and neither do you.
One thing we can assume they're using our Voice Data for is some form of ad targeting. Google says it doesnt use the recordings themselves. However may use a text read out of your recording to show you personalized ads. Amazon has been more vague. It says it doesnt use your data to target ads but that it may use it on Amazon.com, which of course is powered by not ads. But by sophisticated product recommendations our voice data could be. That's why they are adding smart speaker technology to so many different products so that they can collect more. Its also partly smart- speakers are so cheap as it is 10 bucks in the U.S, because the real price is our data. There's a longer-term thing that some privacy experts have sort of brought up is that the more common they are, the more comfortable we are with them. With there being things that take data, and information exposure all around our lives. In 2019, Amazon announced its new “side walked feature” When implemented, it will connect your smart speaker with others in your vicinity, like the ones in your neighbors homes. But you wouldn't know that unless you checked your settings. When something opt-out, it means that they want as many people as possible to be doing it. Thanks to Public pressure tech companies have made it easier to opt out on amazon products, you can set your recording to automatically delete. And prevent amazon from using your recordings to train its system. Google has an option to turn off ad personalizations. They have gotten kinda in trouble.
Or People have found them doing things that they didn't know about and got upset. It always makes you wonder, what are the things we're going to catch them doing later. The huge popularity of smart- speakers shows that we've already entered a new wave of technology, made by companies whose goal is to learn everything they can about us and what they might do with that information is still a mystery.