This is 2017, and you’re not pressing the buttons on your smartphone’s keyboard anymore. You’re using the movement of your tongue to order your phone to carry out the required function. A few years ago, we could only dream about science and technology to produce something like this.
Devices like Google Home, Alexa, Apple Siri and Amazon’s Echo can hear you in between noise and laughter, from anywhere in the room.
Though this is everything we’ve ever dreamed of – convenient, effortless, and straightforward – it is important to highlight and be aware of the threats this new invention has introduced in our lives.
Have you ever dictated valuable, secret information such as your email passwords or your credit card numbers? Ever thought somebody else might be hearing you and recording this information to make some money off you? If not, you better start thinking now, because this poses not just security and privacy risks but also physical hazards. Your location, your home address, your daily routine, someone could be keeping tabs on you and making unauthorized access to all your personal details. Scary, huh?
Security experts have time and again highlighted the threats posed by other devices that need a connection with the internet, and that collect your personal information and connect it with the dots to soak advantage out of you. These devices have been hijacking webcams for years.
Smart speakers, for example, “hear” from afar in a noisy environment, even when playing music, Google assistant understands the pronunciation of a three-year-old child with no problem. Also, the systems do not know how to distinguish people by voice, because of what Alexa performs the commands of everyone who is nearby. As a result – unplanned purchases in the online store through Echo sometimes make children, for whom it’s just a game.
Think about it. We’re placing our trust in the hands of software! We get so skeptical about trying on clothes in the changing rooms of clothing outlets but don’t think much before allowing a live microphone in our private space. The remotest threat to our privacy from surveillance cameras gets us angry, yet we’re not doing anything about what’s going on inside our own houses. We’re being betrayed by the devices we put our trust into.
Besides this, the introduction of voice assistants in smartphones is nothing but harmful to the development of young people. Children are becoming more and more dependent on technology for their everyday tasks.
Getting things done is becoming easier by the day. Minds are dumbing down, and intellectual growth amongst children is slowly becoming something that parents are starting to feel extremely worried about. While voice assistants might be a convenient way to order your phone around, they are also making you lazier than ever.
And that is not okay. It has become more important now than ever for us to pay attention to the mental health, privacy and security of our lives. We must be aware of the sources through which we are being controlled or surveilled. Otherwise, we risk violation of a fundamental human right. The right to life and personal liberty.