It doesn’t matter Alexa; Is even Roomba spying on us?

In PCMag“Best smart home devices for 2022,” tech reviewer Angela Moscaritolo tell us “My house is preparing a doctorate. Gradually it gets smarter.

No. This house is not become smarter. But smart people – who no one asked – know a lot more about what’s going on there. Two data management scientists recently offered some thoughts on this:

In 2007, it would have been hard to imagine the revolution in useful apps and services that smartphones ushered in. But they came at a cost in terms of intrusion and loss of privacy.

Smart devices collect a wide range of data about their users. Smart security cameras and smart assistants are, ultimately, cameras and microphones in your home that collect video and audio information about your presence and activities.

At the less obvious end of the spectrum, things like smart TVs use cameras and microphones to spy on users, smart light bulbs track your sleep and heart rate, and smart vacuum cleaners recognize objects in and around your home. map every centimeter…

Manufacturers usually promise that only automated decision-making systems and not humans see your data. But it’s not always the case.

Roberto Yus and Primal PappachanSmart devices are spying on you everywhere, and that’s a problem” at ScienceAlert (March 15, 2022)

No indeed. Many people learned a few years ago that Alexa never stop listening yours.

It knows what music you’re listening to, what you put on your shopping list, and what smart home products you’ve hooked up to your system, all based on what you tell it to do. Because it can recognize individual voices, it also knows when you’re home and maybe even what room you’re in (because users often name a device by the room it’s in, like ” Kitchen Echo” or “Bedroom Echo”).

Grant ClauserAmazon Alexa never stops listening to you. Should you be worried?” at Wire cutter (August 8, 2019)

Amazon says employees are listening less than “a fraction of one percent of interactions” from those who did not choose more privacy. (Reader’s Digest May 17, 2022) But it’s their choice. Now.

OK. But did you know Roomba? Amazon is about to buy iRobot, which makes the Roomba smart vacuum. But licences are barely all that Amazon buys:

It’s not dust, it’s data.

“People tend to think of Amazon as an online retail company, but really Amazon is a surveillance company. That’s the core of its business model, and that’s what drives its monopoly power and its profits,” says Evan Greer, director of the digital rights nonprofit Fight for the Future. “Amazon wants to have its hands everywhere, and the acquisition of a business that is fundamentally about mapping the people’s homes seems like a natural extension of the surveillance reach that Amazon already has.”

Khari JohnsoniRobot deal would give Amazon cards inside millions of homes” at Wired (August 5, 2022)

Cybersecurity professor Paul Haskell-Dowland draws an admittedly dystopian scenario:

In a Black Mirror-style extrapolation of the tech giant’s recent moves, you can imagine a future where Amazon health insurance (discounted for Prime subscribers, naturally) uses Ring and Roomba cameras to study your living conditions. and your behaviors, and suggest interventions and set prices accordingly.

Amazon Care (this already exists) may let you know that it knows you didn’t take a recommended trip to the gym because you’ve been home all day. Or maybe it’s a question of diet – and the ever-devoted Amazon Robot Mower has reported a pile of empty pizza boxes and beer bottles outside near the trash cans.

Paul Haskell-DowlandiRobot’s Roomba will soon be owned by Amazon, raising privacy questions” at The conversation (August 9, 2022)

To be clear, Haskell-Dowland is not claiming that Amazon does. He points out that Amazon now has most of the technology to do so. Those who ignore or neglect smart device privacy issues do so under these circumstances.

Here is a partial list of available smart home devices from Google alone. The number of such devices has more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to computer professional, now on average 25 per household, up from 11 in 2019. Yes, we can tell devices to stop recording etc., but how many of us actually do that?

A question arises: is an absolute loss of confidentiality and independence the price to pay for excellent connectivity? If so, what is the risk of Smart World being taken over by people who know exactly what is wrong with us and what they should do about us. These people have always been with us and, for them, Smart World must be the greatest temptation in history.

To note: Shoshana Zuboffit is Surveillance capitalism is a book-length treatment of this issue.


You can also read: Can Your Social Media Posts Hurt Your Credit Score? Maybe… With AI tools, your posts or the time you apply for a loan can matter. Is it fair for you? Did you even know? New AI tools intended to help struggling borrowers are hidden, intrusive and currently offer no appeal options, researchers say.

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