Is Alexa Spying on Us?
Many of you have been talking to Alexa but is that virtual Butler just helping you? Some experts are now warning users to be a little cautious because the very information you’re feeding the machine’s algorithms could be used later to influence you and you may not even know what’s happening.
Alexa Knows You
It’s already monitoring how you live. “Alexa turn on the hall lights” “okay”. “Alexa lock the door” “okay”.
Do you have a home assistant? If yes, these home assistants already know everything about your routine. They know when you wake up. They know when you go to work and how you go to work. They know traffic density on your way to work, what work you do, when you get back home. who you meet, who you call.
So basically, everything. So what are they doing with this data?
Why Alexa Need your Data?
Amazon Canada slashed the price to $50 before Christmas it actually lost money on them. So why maybe because they need you as much as you need them.
Amazon is in talks with major corporations to push their products. Amazon is preparing to make a serious run at the advertising market as early as this year and has been in talks with several companies including Procter & Gamble and Clorox about promoting their products on eco devices.
If you’re out of toothpaste and you ask Alexa to buy some for you she may respond by suggesting Colgate even if you’ve never used Colgate before. It’s not just Amazon that has these kinds of devices.
Google already has one an assistant that can do this. Apple is making one too it’s called home pod and just this week and its been reported that Facebook has plans for its own home voice device called portal.
Should we be Worried?
Yes and No. I mean on the one hand they’re very empowering and seductive but on the other hand Alexa is a double agent while working for us she’s actually more working for Amazon. Both in collecting data but also helping to sell us more stuff.
But Amazon says that contrary to that report that they’re not actually selling ads or pushing ads for other products, what are they doing?
Well Amazon’s business is not advertising. Its retail. So where they’re not collecting this data like Facebook or Google would, to how us ads They’re collecting this data to actually sell us stuff. They’re vertically integrated. So they’re technically right and that they’re not using this to show us advertising but it’s a sleight of hand they don’t want us to realize that they’re using all this data to sell us toothpaste or to sell us other goods.
What are they watching for?
Even they can identify the music you’re listening to in the background. The TV shows in the background or they hear a kettle about to boil and they give you a recommendation for tea.
Well they’re watching everything. Everything I mean. If they hear a dog barking in the background you might get a recommendation for dog food. If they hear an argument they might send you marriage counseling. If they hear kids screaming they send you baby products.
It really is a vacuum in terms of its ability to take as much data as possible, identify it in the hopes and then finding stuff they can sell you.
We all have moments of vulnerability. Maybe it’s about of depression. Maybe it’s a marital dispute or a moment where your kids are sick. These vulnerabilities are left open for these retailers to exploit.
Is there a way of using Alexa but protecting yourself
You can use privacy settings abd use this wisely but fundamentally this is a Faustian bargain and that we are giving up our personal information in hopes for cheaper prices. But we think it’s the long-term consequences that we should be paying more attention to.