I Thought I Was in the Minority on This Issue, But Apparently Not

“Alexa. What’s 50 factorial?”

“Alexa. Let’s Play Jeopardy.”

“Alexa. Sing Happy Birthday to me.”

“Alexa. Tell Me a Joke.”

“Alexa. Play Bruce Springsteen.”

Those are among the many commands I have issued to my Amazon Echo device over the past few years. The device answers promptly, and correctly. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the device too much.

Apparently, the device is also always listening to us.

From smart speakers in the kitchen to smart cameras in the doorbell to our ever-present smartphone, this technology is built to record, watch, or listen to information in real-time.

Many people are concerned about such technology, calling it an invasion of privacy. I don’t view it that way, but since that seemed to be the message I heard over and over, I just assumed that the majority of Americans must feel that way.

However, a report by Safety.com finds 66.7 percent of U.S. residents over 18 wouldn’t have a problem finding out a home gadget is listening in on what’s going on inside their home. Researchers polled nearly 1,100 people between the ages of 18 and 64 during December of 2020.

I have to admit I was kind of surprised with those results, but also kind of happy to know that I was not alone in my opinion.

Here were some more detailed results:

  • Baby boomers are much more concerned about digital devices recording their conservations than Millennials or young adults in Generation Z. Adults in Generation X are split on the issue.
  • The poll found that women are more unnerved about smart devices than men are, by a margin of seven percent.
  • Residents in tech-dominant cities and regions are more accepting of potentially being recorded than Americans in communities with less high-tech development.

The poll also found that the general sentiment regarding privacy and technology is “if someone isn’t guilty of anything, then what difference does it make if they’re being listened to?”

That’s my perspective as well.

My Amazon Echo device can record my conversation from when I wake up until I go to bed, and that would be fine with me. If it really is a smart device, it would quickly learn that doing so is a colossal waste of time.

After all, there can’t be much value in listening to me tell my wife and son my updated WordPress stats every couple of hours…

44 thoughts on “I Thought I Was in the Minority on This Issue, But Apparently Not

  1. Given the cancel culture movement, and the crazy Covid restrictions, such as requiring you to wear a mask in your own home, you never know what you might be doing that could get you into trouble.

    My biggest concern is that I am very paranoid. I fear this will be discovered, and I’ll be involuntarily committed. So I won’t allow those spying devices in my home.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am with you, Jim! If my daily routine would somehow be entertaining or enlightening for someone, I would feel sad for them. However, I can see situations where it could be seen as perilous to have what you think is private not be so. I just don’t have anything requiring that kind of privacy in my life. I am more interested in whether or not you have put Alexa to her highest and best use, i.e., “Alexa, what are my WordPress Stats?”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My daughter gave us one for Christmas. We don’t have any SMART home appliances so I’ve only used it so far to set timers and (extend them without having to get up) and to learn what to expect from the weather(only because I can).
    Oh – and as a speaker for the laptop (shame I’d just bought one). It was very unstable as a speaker when I first set it up (I find bluetooth unstable at the bsest of times) but it seems to have sorted itself out on a reboot.
    Like you, I’m sure any powers-that-be have better things to do than listen in to us. I don’t find it a problem, any more than those CCTV cameras we’re supposed to have more of than anyone else in the world.
    And I speak here as a driver who, for six years running, drove with the maximum penalty points on her licence without actually losing it. (In my defence, I did pass fourteen speed cameras on an average daily commute from North East to South London on mostly three-lane carriageways with a 30mph limit, and not always in the 10mph rush hour.)
    I’m sure I’ll find more uses for Alexa once we’re used to each other.
    Can she play Scrabble, I wonder?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve only had my Echo for a month or so, and haven’t really explored all it can do yet: I mostly use it for music and to control the light bulb that came free with it. I hope Alexa doesn’t listen to any conversations I may have with myself, and that she doesn’t have a number for the men in white coats…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t feel that paranoid yet, and I know my phone is recording me because how many people haven’t had a discussion magically turn into a Facebook ad for same yet?

    My concern, however, is, as the algorithms and technology get even better, how long before political opinions or offhand comments about whatever are used against you by a particularly belligerent regime? I never thought that probable here in the U.S. until the last few years.

    And is it even possible to “opt-out” of this new invasive techno-regime anymore? Does an “expectation of privacy” even still exist?

    Like we’ve learned about other technological examples (e.g. plastics, internal-combustion, etc…) just because we can do something doesn’t mean we necessarily should – yet still it seems nobody with real power is asking that question.

    My life would likely bore anyone listening in (just like i’m boring you now 😊), but it would be a lack of imagination on my part to think it won’t become a problem for people who have more to lose – say whistle-blowers or patent-seekers (could our conversations be farmed en masse for new ideas to be sold to the highest bidder?).

    Let us not forget that what now simply makes commerce and marketing more efficient was originally designed to de-centralize military intelligence in the case of a nuclear war. What will it mutate into in the future?

    Sorry for the blather. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thank you for your thoughtful reply. there are certainly concerns with such technology, but my sense is that in its current state, I don’t have too much to be concerned with it…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m Generation X and I’m a woman and I do not like Alexa. Not because I am
    worried about her listening and recoding me,
    but because we have not had a successful
    relationship. She doesn’t listen to me. When I ask her to play my playlist she stops mid song and I can’t start her again. I have trouble engaging her. I repeat myself, talk louder and louder, enunciate and at times call her a bad name, (of course that she heard and didn’t like). I don’t know If she just doesn’t like my voice, doesn’t like having another woman in the house, if she is just a snob, or if her and I are just trying to see who is in charge of this relationship. Incidentally she does listen to my husband. In the long run, I was the victor, so to say, as she is back in her box on a shelf in the basement storage room. BTW, I have the same issues with Siri, so do you think
    there is a chance that I may be the problem?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m in the minority. The answer to the question about is it okay to record everything said in my house depends on knowing all of the possible uses for that information and who might hear it. Neighbors? Employers? Relatives? Governments domestic and foreign? Anyone willing to pay?

    Data is collected for the purpose of using it. Data is a valuable asset. Corporations are obligated to maximize the value of their assets within the limits of the law. And if data is stored, there is no guarantee it can’t be hacked and exploited by people who didn’t collect it.

    People surely would not want a device that makes video records of everything they do in their bedrooms and every other room at home and stores those records. Audio isn’t much different in my view.

    Using devices like Alexa seems to constitute express or implied waiver of any rights to privacy as to anything that goes on in our homes. I don’t know if this has been tested, but perhaps Alexa could void attorney-client privilege or other privileges. I wonder what the poll results would have been if the question was phrased with all of the ramifications spelled out. Paranoid and long winded, sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hahaha 😀 I think if they keep hearing you talk about WP stats maybe they’ll give you privacy instead because they no longer want to know more 😂

    On a more serious note, I belong to millennial generation but I hate the idea of anyone knowing anything about me without my consent, even if it’s about tonight dinner…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t have one, but my youngest daughter does, and the grandies and I endlessly pepper it with questions and requests. I was happily amused when I heard my 8-year old grandson ask her to play some ‘nice dinner music’ when we sat down to a fancy meal.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I know I am behind the times in some things just because I have no interest in knowing but when I looked it up I am part of the Baby Booming era by all accounts…I have no interest in allowing Alexa or Siri into my life…that’s it really…I have seen too many innocent things bandied around as good for us or fun and then it turns out the total opposite…Buyer beware springs to mind…and no my closet contains no dead bodies…Happy New Year, Jim 🙂

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