A recent article in
Wired Magazine reviewed and critiqued
the various Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered devices known as home
assistants or homebots. Tucked into the innocuous article was “A NOTE ABOUT
PRIVACY.” It is perhaps the most relevant part of the article and reminds us of
something we have all been thinking for more than a decade.
If your paramount concern in life is privacy, turn back now. Google Home
and Amazon Echo are constantly listening, and they send some of what you say
back to the mothership. But you know what? This is just another scootch down
the slippery slope you stepped on when you signed up for Facebook, bought your
first book on Amazon, and typed “symptoms of shingles” into a search box. Tech
companies have always asked us to give up a little privacy, a little data, in
exchange for their wondrous services. Maybe homebots are the breaking point. But
the things Alexa can do—so convenient! One bit of advice: Before the gang shows
up to plan the casino heist, hit the device’s mute button. — David Pierce, Wired.com 

In a world of bank
machines, cell-phones, smart-phones, internet browsers, and homebots, we have
chosen to get services for a reduced cost or “free.” What we have traded for
these free services is information about our choices. This is an invaluable
commodity for those who would sell us products or services. The movie Minority Report (2002, Directed by Steven Spielberg) envisioned a world in which shopping malls would be filled with personal
advertising to appeal to our particular tastes and purchasing history. The
movie came out in 2002 and seemed implausible at the time. In 2017, we are tiny
steps away from this view of advertising. Such advertising may seem invasive, but the things your smart-phone can do – so convenient!

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