Things are beginning to get a little bit creepy.
We’ve all seen the ads for the “home assistants” that will make our lives easier, such as Amazon’s Echo with Alexa, Google Home, etc. The ads make everything look nice and convenient. They do their job, in a way. They make it seem like life will be so much easier with them and an unorganized mess without them.
There is a drawback, though. Reports began surfacing that they’re listening and recording even when you’re not asking them to.
That topic came up in a recent conversation with a friend. As we were discussing this, Logan was looking at Snapchat on his phone. The article that came up? It was about hour Amazon’s Alexa is “always listening.”
Apparently, so is Logan’s cellphone.
But the phones and devices don’t just listen. They track your habits and browsing. We had a mattress start to give out on its support halfway through its 10-year warranty. We started to look into replacements, and commercials for online-order brands such as Leesa and Casper caught our attention. Jason looked them up on his phone to see what pricing was like. Less than 30 minutes later, I logged into Facebook, and my stream was loaded with ads for — you guessed — Leesa and Casper mattresses.
My phone must sense now that I’ve been working out. Maybe it’s because I’ve been using an app to access some of the videos I use. Whatever it is, my Facebook stream is now full of ads for workout leggings from Fabletics.
But Monday, a day after the conversation with my friend, one of the first articles I came across on the Associated Press wire was about all new “smart” home devices that, inevitably, I’m sure, we’ll all be unable to live without. It was about new gadgets that were being introduced at this year’s CES gadget show this week, including ovens, sinks and toilets — yes, toilets.
"It's decentralized surveillance," said Jeff Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy, a Washington-based digital privacy advocate. "We're living in a world where we're tethered to some online service stealthily gathering our information."
Most companies, the article states, uses the information gathered to target ads to you, i.e. Facebook pages.
Personally, I don’t need an oven that can sync with my calendar to determine what meals I can cook with the time I have. I’m no mathematician, but I can figure that out on my own. Besides, I still keep my calendar with pen and paper.
I wouldn’t mind a tub that’s capable of adjusting the water temperature to my preferences, but I’m perfectly capable of measuring out my water for cooking. It’s called using a measuring cup. Additionally, it seems excessive to have my washer and dryer send a message to my TV letting me know their cycles are complete. I can pretty much guess that, plus I’m usually only in the next room while doing the wash.
I also don’t need an app to flush my toilet, and I don’t need said toilet to play music or news for me. I can, however, get on board with the heated seat option.
The article also stated that someday, finding devices without these “smart” options may be as difficult to find as a VCR or analog TV. I hope that’s a long way down the road.
Reading this article got me thinking, though. Maybe the animators at Disney/Pixar got it right with WALL-E. Maybe we’re all just destined to float around on chairs, letting technology do all the work for us.