15 March 2018
Sinister Smart Speakers – Are they taking over?
From Siri to Alexa, the impact of voice-controlled Smart Speakers has become more prominent, in recent years. What could be better than finding out how far away you are from Mongolia, in a matter of seconds? Or what 21796 + 43267 is?
Well, these Smart Speakers claim to be able to answer all these vital questions. According to tech advisors NPR, 1 in 6 Americans (which is 16% or 39 million people) own a smart speaker. About 7% of Americans bought their smart speaker between Black Friday and the end of 2017. Many companies have made Smart Speakers, including: Google, Amazon and Apple. These companies have made these speakers to help people around the house. Some of the features of these devices are: playing music, turning on smart lights and they can even tell jokes.
However, recently people have been becoming more and more worried that their smart speakers have turned on them. What are the dangers? How ‘Smart’ are they? In this informative article, all these questions will be answered…
In a recent study carried out by the BBC, 3 Smart Speakers (Homepod, Alexa and Google Home) were asked a series of random questions. I have compiled a few of the most surprising answers that the Smart Speakers replied with.
When asked, How long has Theresa May been Prime Minister? Alexa was able to give the correct answer. Another astonishing reply was that both Google Home and Alexa were able to correctly tell people the quickest way to get to work. In my opinion, the most shocking answer reply was that Alexa and Google Home were both able to correctly give the current leader in Formula 1 racing. These responses show that these Smart Speakers are all startlingly intelligent and that these devices are quite alarming, due to how much they know.
Despite sounding and looking amazing, these speakers have a sinister side – which could be possibly dangerous. Over the last few years, there have been numerous reports of Smart Speakers doing weird, alarming actions. In the last couple of weeks, many members of the public have commented that their Alexa has been randomly laughing at them, in an eerie manner. Amazon stated that they had fixed the issue. However, many people became very anxious over this, anxious because they did not know if their smart device had been hacked.
Another instance of dangerous behaviour from these speakers is that Google admitted that their newest device (the Google Home Mini) had been inadvertently listening to people’s conversations. Many people were understandably frightened by this. Later on, Google issued a statement confirming that a software update had been released and the eavesdropping had been successful removed.
Overall, I believe that Smart Speakers are incredibly useful and are very helpful, in multiple ways. Owning an Alexa myself, I thoroughly enjoy using its skills, however I also know the danger of it. If anything strange occurs relating to your device, I would recommend turning it off for a while, until the glitch or bug is fixed. You could also contact the company, who makes your device.
I hope you found my article interesting and informative. Remember, be smart when using smart devices.