When it comes to devices like Google Home or Amazon Alexa, I often read comments like the one below from Hacker News:
But people willingly bringing always on listening devices in to their homes (beyond what smartphones are already capable of) I just can’t comprehend it. Why would people voluntarily do this in exchange for being able to ask for weather, play a playlist, add a todo and a few other parlor tricks. I guess I value my privacy more than others and don’t like the idea of entities compiling a record of my data that they can sell and market.
This was in reply to this article from the BBC about comments made by a Google Chef regarding smart speakers.
The above comment strikes me as another unforgiving case of engineers being out of touch with the outside world. Yes, I (as a software engineer) understand the privacy concern, but I really just don’t care about it that much. Out of all the things that I worry about in the world, Google listening on everything that happens in my bedroom (mainly videogames, typing and sex) is not that high on my list. As soon as it starts becoming a problem, I’m more than capable of getting rid of it; but it has not reached that point.
For the past two years, I have kept a Google Home sitting in my bedroom. I voluntarily bought it so that I can voice control my three WiFi lights when I’m in bed (absolutely hate getting out of bed to turn off the lights) along with setting reminders in the morning and even playing music.
Now this situation would be different if some government agency forced me into buying a device that’s capable of listening to me and I could not git rid of it. But the Google Home is something that I am actively choosing to use despite the chance that all my audio recordings could leak someday. It’s an informed personal decision that people can make (like using drugs).
So there’s my rant.