Recently, we bought our granddaughter a smart television for Christmas.  We went over with her options and she chose a Toshiba model through Amazon.  It is loaded with Alexa.

We joked about Alexa spying on her.  She says she accepts the fact that the government knows where she is.  And, she says that she is confident that devices like smart phones and Echo Dot listen and feed information to the company they work for all of the time.  (After all, Amazon sells the Echo and Echo Dot at a loss in order to make it easier for you to buy from them.)

To make her point our granddaughter told me that she was on her smartphone with a friend discussing some future purchase and an advertisement for a similar product popped up on the tablet she had been working on.

It turns out that the devices listen all of the time; not just when you ask for something or give them a command. 

The government does know where our granddaughter lives, but who told them?  It seems that locating the Echo (or any of the similar devices sold by Google, Samsung, and other companies) by GPS is integral to the workings of the device.

Where does paranoia end and valid concern begin?

When one of the members of our U/U Fellowship found out that we had security cameras in place during that were on during the service, and that the service was recorded, she became very agitated.  She was somewhat appeased when we told her that the security cameras were actually for the members benefit since we are a liberal church attended by a large proportion of gay and lesbian couples (like her and her wife) and that we record the services for “shut-ins”.  She said we should have told her before they joined.  I suppose that I might feel the same if I had spent most of my life “hiding in a closet”.

We have an Echo.  It plays music on command, provides the local weather forecast, gives the Reuters’ daily news brief when asked and makes it easy to buy from Amazon.  I asked it, “Alexa, who else is listening in?”  She answered, “I’m not sure I understand your question.”  She is a little more impersonal than Siri.  Siri would have replied, “I’m not sure I understand your question….Rodney.”  Or she might have been much more entertaining.  When asked what she was wearing Siri replied. “People have an unusual interest in my wardrobe….Rodney.”  Those Apple guys and gals are constantly upgrading Siri.

I’m not bothered by having Alexa in the home.  Maybe I should be.  I’m just not a conspiracy theorist.  I know that the Echo is a marketing tool.  I understood that on the front end.  It may, also, be just one of the tools that the NSA or Homeland Security uses to monitor all of us.

Views: 98

Comment by koshersalaami on December 4, 2018 at 7:17am

Could be. 

Comment by alsoknownas on December 4, 2018 at 7:50am

I figured it would just save time to turn myself in rather than buy one of those things and wait for the knock at the door.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on December 4, 2018 at 8:05am

what AKA said

Comment by Tom Cordle on December 4, 2018 at 8:25am

The right to privacy is clearly laid-out in the Constitution:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause ..."

So – where are the Strict Constructionists on this Supreme Court when it comes to privacy? On this uber-corporate-friendly Court – a Court that has already ruled that corporations are people, they're most likely arguing that invasion of privacy only applies to the government and that corporations are free to do anything they wish to real persons in the privacy of their homes – and anywhere else for that matter.

Unfortunately, it can easily be argued that those real persons don't have much of an argument, not when they willingly surrender their right to privacy for a little convenience, say speak to Alexa or Siri and get them to change the channel on the television, which by the way is also spying on them. Sad to say, even those of us who don't feel grossly inconvenienced by having to push a button or two on the remote – a remote for god's sake, already one of the greatest convenience devices ever made - are being spied on by other means.

I'm afraid the horse has left the barn, as they say, a conclusion al;ready put forward a couple of decades ago by Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems:

"You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it."

No can do, and I will not go quietly.

Comment by Robert B. James on December 4, 2018 at 8:51am

Consumption opportunities and life span are increasingly dependent on willing participation...enthusiastic participation in the AI world. Credit scores? What are they? What will they become? 

Comment by Boanerges on December 4, 2018 at 9:04am

Just suppose, 25 or so years ago, that government decided every person over 12 would have to carry a location transmittter on his or her person at all times for "safety reasons" or some such justification. Imagine the outrage that would have ensued. Turns out legislation wasn't needed -- we did it to ourselves all unbidden. 

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on December 4, 2018 at 9:30am

uhmhmm

Comment by alsoknownas on December 4, 2018 at 11:30am

Tom Cordle,

Have you ever read this book? It takes the position that the word "privacy" is not contained anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, and that your supposition has always been in place, even prior to citizens lining up for the latest pocket-sized spy tool. :

Right To Privacy Paperback – 1995

Comment by Tom Cordle on December 4, 2018 at 3:10pm

AKA  Haven't read it, but I beg to differ with the authors based on your summation.What, pray tell, do they think the Founders intended but privacy with their protection of "persons, houses, papers, and effects" from the prying eyes of the government? Their criticism is based on far too narrow an understanding of the Founders intent. And that, to quote Churchill, "is the sort of niggling criticism up with which I will not put".

Comment by Ron Powell on December 4, 2018 at 4:10pm

@TC; The 4th Amendment contains prohibitions that apply specifically, if not strictly, to the government....Walmart, Google, and Amazon notwithstanding....

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