Amazon / Apple / Avram's Past / Google

Finally I am being listened to:  got an Amazon Echo


 

Amazon Echo

I just got an Amazon Echo. It is both amazing and frustrating experience. The amazing part is how quick response when it actually knows the answer. It is like talking to a person.  The frustrating part is that it doesn’t know the answer to many questions.
Unexpected Device

I think up until now, all the computing devices that I have had in my possession were  ones that I imagined before they were actually created. My experience with  personal computers dates back to the 70s. I played around with various tablets in the 80s. By the mid-90s, I understood that we would have mobile computers in our pockets that would be connected via wireless communications. Intelligent TV set-top boxes were something that I actually worked on in the early 90s. But I never imagine there would be a device in my home whose only purpose was to listen to my voice and connect me to some kind of intelligence in the cloud that would  then answer my queries. So far the most useful thing I have found is the ability to ask how something is spelled. The Echo, in this case, has put my wife out of a job.

Always listening
If you don’t know how a device like the Echo works, let me explain it a bit. Basically, it’s a microphone that’s listening to everything. However, it only activates when it recognizes its name. This is similar to Siri on the iPhone and iPad. Google and Apple are bringing out comparable products. Once you wake up the device by speaking its name, you can ask it to do various things. Some of those things are just collecting information from the Internet which it will then speak to you while other functions have to do with managing features of a Smart Home if you have one.

Hello NSA 

Now we have devices in your home that are listening to everything that we are saying and are intelligent enough to understand much of what we saying, is easy to imagine how this could be abused. For example, Google  could use this information to collect knowledge about what it is that you’re thinking about buying and then to use that information when serving ads. It is also possible that such devices could be hacked.   Perhaps a hacker including The NSA now has the ability to listen to my conversations in the privacy of my home. This caused me to realize that the cameras that I use for security at my home are not only looking at my home 24 hours a day but also listening to what is being said. Several of the cameras I use are from Google (Nest). I guess I’m a pretty trusting guy.

7 thoughts on “Finally I am being listened to:  got an Amazon Echo

  1. I am not such a trusting person. There will be no such devices in my home. My phone goes in my pocket when I’m not using it. I have a RFID blocking wallet. I refuse to sign up for AT&T GigaPower gigabit internet service because you give them explicit permission to spy on you. I could pay 50% more and then they claim they won’t spy on my, but why should I believe them? I’ll be glad when Google fiber gets here only because of the increased competition. I don’t and never will use a Google product because they are built to spy on me.
    If this makes me sound paranoid, I’m not. I know there is no defense against the NSA and other government spying agencies, but I do value my privacy, as little of it there is left.

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    • Unless you don’t ever use email/internet, and have no smartphone, I just don’t see how you can pretend to keep your privacy. All of your digital access/info at some point navigate over unsafe “wire”, outside of your control.

      Your phone maybe in your pocket and give you a somewhat, false, sense of security but what of other people in your proximity? You are being listened to and your face tracked, then fed to automated “Big Data” engine. There is just no escape anymore.

      An interesting experiment: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35639549

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  2. Thank you, Bob. Likewise, I use and endorse no product or offering affiliated with or owned by Alphabet. For the most part, IMHO, they offer no added value to me but enormous potential value to Alphabet (let’s ask Hal Varian about that equation).

    The only Alphabet offering that currently balances-out net consumer benefit for me is WAZE, a Google acquisition; and I am about to jettison that app because of a better value proposition — a _net_ value proposition. I was a beta user and on the verge of acquiring a NEST product; but after acquisition by Google, chose another supplier.

    The technology may be different, but the principles are the same as we observe with Sun-Tzu, walls of Jericho, city-states of the post-Roman Empire and Medieval Europe, and XVII England. If one takes seriously the protections of the US Constitution, one must take personal responsibility to manage the walls and the moat around your castle keep.

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  3. I am 76 and as owner and President and CEO of Viewcall Inc I launched the first Internet set-top box on the US market in 1995. It was soon after sold to Oracle who promoted it as the world’s first thin client. My purpose was to use the Web as a political means to introduce electronic voting. I have since written a novel -The Royal Secret- which examines the origins of New World Orders idealists from the past with Francis Bacon- aka Shakespeare- providing the key link between the past to the constituents of the Illuminati of today and the dangers they present through control of all our lives. see http://www.theroyalsecret.info for links to Pearltree and Pinterest.

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