Sometimes when I start typing Our Monday Blog, I suspect that you wonder if I am getting paid by the word. I start one place and find myself easily headed down another rabbit hole. (Couldn’t help but throw in an Easter metaphor… right?)
It feels like every week brings us news of another store or company who have suffered a data breach. And a lot of people have their personal information exposed. So that leads me to ask the question, “Are we inviting hackers into our homes because of our purchased equipment. Which now leads me to write about Facebook and Amazon… and what patents they are seeking. A question of privacy.
But honestly, I feel a little like this in discussing some of this technology:
When it comes to technology in the future, I just like to keep it simple. Much like this watch!
Practically speaking, at the start of their season, Michigan and Villanova had a plan to win it all. But there is no way that they could have been certain that they were headed for the NCAA Championship game tonight. To give them a chance.
But technology companies think a little differently. Nothing about just a chance.
For instance, Facebook would have us believe that their future plans are here for Us. Here is their privacy statement:
Something tells me that “my control” would be better described as “what they control of me”. As to Facebook’s new products, here’s what we know. Facebook already has new home products in their arsenal to introduce, that would compete with Alexa and Echo.
But, they have delayed introducing these products and hardware because they are concerned that it would play into the public’s perception of Facebook invading our privacy and using it against us; or having some third party or country use it against us. This delay occurred after it was reported that 50 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by that creepy company Cambridge Analytica.
Which also leads me to the discussion of their filed patent applications. A view to the future of products.
A recent Gallop Poll reports that 22% of Americans use devices in their homes like Echo or Google Home. (A NY Times article that also discusses the eerie laugh that Echo was strangely making) Which is why we are concerned about companies eavesdropping on us, even though they all insist otherwise.
Amazon and Google assure us that their devices only react to certain trigger words and then shut off. They assure us that unless the green light is on, there is nothing happening. Never mind what happened last fall when Google distributed its Home Minis to journalist… and the equipment never stopped recording. (AndroidPolice.com)
And yet… all these advancements are for our benefit. But we all agree that voice data from this technology is evolving and here’s where these companies apparently see the future.
For one patent application, Amazon describes a “voice sniffer algorithm” for home and mobile devices, to analyze audio almost in real time and to react when it hears words like “love,” bought” or “dislike. ”Here’s what they are working on as indicated in a NY Times article titled, Hey, Alexa, What Can You Hear? And What Will You Do With It?
And here is how they can use such triggers under the patent, “for our benefit”. You could be talking on the phone to a friend… and then get an offer for travel or a sale on pants. The patent describes a diagram where “to your benefit” might mean that you then see an ad for a Wine of the Month Club membership.(Here is the rest of the story)
Google’s patent applications would “benefit you” through their home by providing smart product advertisements that are generated from your audio and visual signals.
So should we be concerned about the applications and just consider them as advancements in technology? No so fast! So says Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog, which is a California non-profit organization that recently published a study of some of these futuristic applications for patents in an article titled, Home Assistant Adopter Beware: Google, Amazon Digital Assistant Patents Reveal Plans for Mass Snooping (Here)
As I started writing this blog, I got myself crazy researching. If you are still with me this far… maybe you are shaking your head too!
One final thought on this. Google has said that it will generally not provide audio recordings of users to third parties, but may send transcriptions of your voice and your information. It’s listed (Here under their privacy category of “Does Google Home share my information with anyone)
And…. no surprise, Amazon may give app developers this same information as well. (Here) Hmmm!
And for pic o’ day let’s go far away from technology. I guess this is what they call airline humor and it makes me laugh!