Time to Embrace Home Automation or Worry About Privacy?

Time to Embrace Home Automation or Worry About Privacy? 
By Anonymous | September 19, 2021

“Good night, Alexa,” as you heading to the bed, “Good night,” Alexa WHISPERED. When this function is first discovered by users, a lot are thrilled and scared since the home assistant devices seem to understand and behave more like human than expected. There’re growing number of smart home assistant prevailing in the market in the past few years, and the user amounts are increasing exponentially and leading to the prosperous of the home automation industry. As more and more people are relying on the convenience that home assistant such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, could bring to life, more concerns are brought up about the personal data and privacy of the users.

Does the home assistants always listen to us?

When home automation first came into the sight of the public, easy commands are expected and executed: maybe answering questions by retrieving information online, turning lights on and off, setting alarms, playing specific music or a genre based on the description, etc. Then, more can be connected, not limited to mobile devices, cameras, TV, Air Conditioner, Electrical cars, as long as they are manufactured as “works with” smart home assistants.

How fascinating the smart home automation works

Over years of transformation, now these home assistants fueled by artificial intelligence can observe and collect data in real-time for a specific user and make sense of a certain command under the given situation. Despite of the fact that some users are reporting that such devices are not smart enough in certain scenarios causing false alarms and silly responses, the others are surprised by what they are capable of and worried about their lives getting controlled over by these smart home assistants.

“They listen to our talking all the time,” shouts are expressed to the public the year Alexa introduced to the public. It’s rational and reasonable to have such concerns, and understandable for the public to worry about the privacy and security of their personal information.

Smart home assistants can respond to vocal command either via recording data continuously or waiting for a signature word to be activated or awakened. Either way, as using these devices and features, people are exposing their personal data collected by these home assistants to some extent, depending on the ethics of the companies. As an example of personal identification information, let alone accounts and credentials that are linked, how about voices? They can recognize the host’s voice and decide on whether to respond or execute the requests received or not. It’s already a question whether anonymous still exist in the world of Internet.

There’s no promise made by the companies or privacy and terms, that data collected are only authorized information or with consent. It’s also vague how they may use these personal data since when user signing the consent form, it’s saying “help improve our performance and functionality” while not mentioning a word on how specifically these will be performed on the data collected.

Artificial intelligence brings undeniable convenience to human lives, and the public, or users, are crucial in providing data fed to the algorithms and artificial intelligence to make the improvements and progress. However, gaining solid support from the public is fundamental in making further progresses speaking of these smart home assistant devices in the market. To achieve the optimal outcomes both to users and to the companies, more efforts should be made on the transparency on they data collection and addressing the privacy concerns. And it’s always your choice to embrace such home automation revolution or saying no!

References:
www.businessinsider.com/amazon-echo-alexa-whisper-mode-how-to-turn-on-2018-10
www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/amazons-alexa-never-stops-listening-to-you/
Amazon Privacy Notice: www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=468496&tag=thewire06-20&tag=thewire06-20
www.forbes.com/sites/enriquedans/2020/12/19/isnt-about-time-you-started-teaching-your-digital-home-assistant-some-newtricks/?sh=4ffb9517169c
www.techsafety.org/homeautomation