Recent news brought to light that Apple contractors frequently listen in to people’s sexual encounters. Their job is to monitor conversations overheard by Apple’s Siri voice assistant and perform quality control to make sure that Siri is doing its job. Part of that involves listening to conversations recorded by Siri, some of which may be done without the subjects’ knowledge.
One reason for that is that people may accidentally activate Siri by using trigger words and not realize it. That prompts Siri to activate and record up to 30 seconds of a conversation. Apple contractors have overheard sexual encounters, drug deals, and conversations about medical history.
Siri isn’t the only such voice assistant that is capable of doing this either, as Amazon’s Alexa can do the same thing. And with recent confirmation that many security cameras could be sending their recordings back to China, there’s a growing realization that the technology many of us rely on to be helpful may actually be harmful instead.
More and more people live in a state that would make Big Brother blush. Their smartphones track their every move, record their every picture and store it in the cloud, and keep tabs on every detail of their lives. Their security doorbells record every movement that occurs on their street, and their Siri and Alexa voice assistants record their conversations. If they make orders on their electronic devices, information on those orders and their history is recorded too. In short, there is hardly a minute of our daily lives that isn’t being tracked or recorded by someone or something somewhere.
Is this really what we want? Are we so concerned with living a comfortable life that we’re willing to give up our privacy and allow ourselves to be tracked in every facet of our lives? Or will we eventually wake up and realize that we don’t need this new technology, that it benefits large corporations at the expense of our privacy, and that we’re better off without most of it?