Is Amazon’s Alexa A Complete Privacy Nightmare?

Sebastien Roblin

If you grew up watching Star Trek you routinely heard Captain Picard intoning “Computer,…” and either requesting a hot Earl Grey tea, making the twenty-fourth century equivalent of a Wikipedia query, or ordering the arming of photon torpedoes and engaging of the warp drive.

Since 2014, Amazon began selling Echo smart speakers using the Alexa Home Assistant cloud-based system which came around with pretty much the same promise.

Ok, not so much the warp drive and photon torpedoes. But verbally ordering a computer to answer questions and turn on the lights? Absolutely!

If you want, you can even address Alexa as “Computer!” just like Picard does to get its attention. (I don’t recommend that, though. “Computer” is a pretty common word.)

Still, having a cheerful, disembodied robot lady at your beck and call can strike some people as creepy. I wasn’t exactly an enthusiastic adopter when my wife acquired a system a year ago. But now that I’ve had it at home for a year it’s grown on me—despite the device’s limitations and privacy concerns.

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