The House That Spied on Me

from Gizmodo

In December, I converted my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco into a “smart home.” I connected as many of my appliances and belongings as I could to the internet: an Amazon Echo, my lights, my coffee maker, my baby monitor, my kid’s toys, my vacuum, my TV, my toothbrush, a photo frame, a sex toy, and even my bed.

“Our bed?” asked my husband, aghast. “What can it tell us?”

“Our breathing rate, heart rate, how often we toss and turn, and then it will give us a sleep report each morning,” I explained.

“Sounds creepy,” he said, as he plopped down on that bed, not bothered enough to relax instead on our non-internet-connected couch.

I soon discovered that the only thing worse than getting a bad night’s sleep is to subsequently get a report from my bed telling me I got a low score and “missed my sleep goal.” Thanks, smart bed, but I know that already. I feel like shit.

Why? Why would I do this? For convenience? Perhaps. It was appealing to imagine living like the Beast in the Disney movie, with animated objects around my home taking care of my every need and occasionally serenading me. As a result of the apartment upgrade, I could watch what was happening in the house when we weren’t there. I could use voice commands to turn on the lights, coffee maker, and music. I could exchange voice messages with our toddler (and her caregiver) through a toy. I got reminders from my toothbrush to brush and tips on how best to do it. If I got cold in the night, my bed could warm me up. And I no longer had to push a vacuum around the house, instead activating a robot to do it for me with a press of a smartphone button.

More here.

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32 Comments

  1. With an upstream of technologically innovative devices being manufactured from our inevitable age of technology, an era in which an increase of futuristic product production seems to be the main platform of international competition, our societies have slowly been breached of their once natural qualities; a coat of sheer technological mechanics has been implemented within the foundation of our communities. Nowadays, as the authors proffer from their article, our homes and daily lives have been drenched in newly developed technologies that have arguably created a more efficient and quicker living environment. We are able to illuminate our living spaces within the command of our voice, gather daily weather updates or informational data without having to open our laptops or cellular devices, and even operate kitchen machinery behind “closed curtains”. We have become an era surrounded by lively inanimate objects, allowing ourselves to only further loathe into a pool of laziness and unfruitfulness. For example, with Amazon’s featured Alexa we can now gather daily updates or hold conversations with an actual radio-like source- either entertaining ourselves, acquiring quick on the spot information, or keeping our children productive. It was estimated that Amazon sold “tens of millions” of these products, mainly during the holidays, as this number is thought to only increase in the near future. But just like this illustrious device, which seems to be incessantly sold more throughout the country, products as such have started to infringe on our personal lifestyles and may offer a concerning question of whether or not our security and personal privacies may be invaded. As Hill and Mattu have illustrated amid their article, these devices have started to replace our daily activities that have required either human interaction or physical contact, which palpably may have generated a more rapid and accessible home environment, but has surfaced itself amongst our most intimate lives. Our personal homes have now become corporate experiments monitoring our every actions and impeding our private lifestyles. Additionally, our personal statistics that these products have measured have been found to be stored and sent to external servers connected to such devices; our bodily characteristics and independent traits have now become but a mere experimental observation. The fact that we have become so dependent on these resources to manage our lives is a situation that we should be most concerned with; the circumstances of the future which may include self-sustaining houses, hands free driving, and increased artificial intelligence among our societies will ultimately unleash a plague from which there is no cure- the ever-evolving technology outbreak. But although these new technologies may have thought to infringe on certain characteristics that make us human, despite the circumstances that have caused the author’s home to be a chaotic and uncontrollable living environment, the use of these new devices may actually be of help- but in small and controlled quantities. Whether or not someone may find a system such as Alexa useful, or a self-operating coffee machine as something of value depends entirely on the individual themselves. When you purposely seek out to buy every current or impending device that may appear in the market for household application there are obvious effects that could be observed to induce negative occurrences. It is most efficient to buy only what you believe you need; something that will truly be useful in your home environment that does not just support your urge of laziness. You must first have to establish what would make your household more comfortable, such as things that could potentially contribute to a quicker morning right before work, items that could guarantee the security of your home as well as your children, and other factors that could enhance your living quality, but most importantly, are needed. It is reasonable to conclude that there are several errors with some of the systems such as Amazon Alexa’s inability to either operate with other devices or recognize certain phrases, as the authors of the article argue, but in terms of developmental progression we have certainly come a long way,- which could be the issue. Individuals want to own all of these newly trending technologies because they feel as if they need to embark toward that of the modern era of technology. We feel the need to spend unreasonably amounts of money on items that we don’t need, because we feel satisfied owning these up to date products, and may actually be seeking a more mobile home. But as we continue to invest in these industrially modern systems and devices we will continue to become submerged within the imprisonment of our own purchases- becoming a product of our own gadgets.

  2. Being “smart” is no longer how much information you know or how high your IQ is, but rather it is how many devices you have connected to the internet that can do more than one function. For example the Alexa is a smart device that is connected to the internet that can connect to other devices in your home that can be controlled through voice activation. Having a smart home means that many of those objects in your home are connected to the internet and can be ordered to do things through Alexa. What people do not know is what is happening behind the scenes of what you are searching and what items that you are having perform tasks. The problem with these smart homes is that the ISP’s are taking the info ration that they collect from the usages of the gadgets in your home and they are selling it to companies so that these companies can get a feel for what products consumer are using and they can market those products towards you more. These gadgets in your home are always communicating with each other or an outside source giving up all the info on this stuff and selling it. Not only can they sell your information but they can see exactly what is going on technology wise in your house. Meaning they can track the movement of every smart device in your home and tract what it is doing.
    The ISP’s should not be able to do this and it feels like an invasion of privacy because of the fact that they are essentially spying on these people. Smart homes are a little too smart and they are selling information about the people who own them. The idea of a smart home sounds cool and something that would come out of a futuristic movie but the technology to serve people and keep everyone’s privacy protected simply isn’t there. Consumers are not going to stop using these technologies either because they are effective in what they do or they are fun to have but are you willing to risk that privacy. Personally I think the Alexa is pretty cool because in my home it is connected to the TV and lights so therefore I can turn the lights on and off and the TV by using my voice. Not though I feel that is a little creepy because the ISP’s are getting a transcript of everything I say which is kind of concerning. I do not wat my technology tendencies to be sold to these companies so they can just use it to advertise their products to me. I want my privacy and I just want to use my technology without the thought of these ISP’s using my network to gather information and track the patters of my family. This kind of though is very a very unsettling feeling that I don’t want to feel in the privacy of my own home. Technology is supposed to help the world not help the ISP’s spy on us and gather information.

  3. Living in a completely technology based house sounds fascinating at first – it is all very techy, modern, and everything is easy to do with a simple command. However here, comfort comes with a price and I’m not talking money wise. The privacy of the owners is disregarded, and everything is recorded. Everything is monitored. Even if there is no one in the house, everything is constantly being monitored and checked on. Privacy is something that I value a lot, and having a completely electronic household would make me uncomfortable. The information being monitored in these houses is not kept to the device, it is being given up to other companies. This is why the devices are “spying” on us. It is ideal for the devices to help us, to make some things easier, but not to make us completely lazy.
    This step forward isn’t exactly healthy. It encourages humans to be lazy, because we have a robot to do something for us. The example used in the article about the vacuum and not having to start it yourself really hit me, because I was not even aware that it was possible to start a vacuum with a button. It is concerning that we are becoming so dependent on these mechanical devices. There was this article I read previously about Alexa co-parenting a child, and that astonished me, because I never expected parents to go to the point of letting a device entertain their child, let alone give advice on how to raise them.
    Originally, I was fascinated by the idea of having an all technology house, I think it is pretty cool and interesting but after reading this article, I am a little wary. I value my privacy too much to let it be taken and given to other companies. This is not supposed to be what the companies do, the devices are here to make some things easier for us, but instead we are now becoming paranoid about what could happen. The information caught on camera, on tape, everything is recorded and this prevents people from being able to roam freely. For example, even being able to having a casual night with a partner would be impossible because everything is recorded.

  4. There’s no denying that with the advancement of technology, everyday tasks and inconveniences have become much easier to handle. With the touch of a button or even with the simplest of words, a person can have what they want without having to do any of the work themselves. It makes daily routines simple and effortless. It also allow one to monitor themselves and learn how to better improve their physical and mental conditions by getting tips and advice from their electric devices. These technological advancements shoot the world into a future many could not have ever imagined just a few decades ago. In fact, many of the most taken for granted technologies integrated into society today have become so apart of society, it would be hard to imagine life without them. For example, cell phones and the unlimited amount of data on the go would be unheard of in the early 1900s, yet in modern society, these everyday items are nearly essential to many individuals. However, the scariest part about the in-depth integration of technology is not the almost dependent nature of the individuals who use them. In fact, it’s much darker. The scariest thing about having so much technology involved in an individual’s everyday life is the ability for others to gather information of a person from the technology he or she uses. The amount of information an outsider can collect on another from the internet is proved in this terrifying experiment in which one a woman connects all of her “smart” devices to the internet to see how they would essentially “betray” her and her life. Another point of interest when considering the impacts of technology today is how much energy it uses, which can lead to long-term, financial and safety problems. All the electronic device in a “smart” home have to be plugged-in or charged and connected to the internet. Additionally, many of the devices interact with each other. Not to mention the amount of space each device takes up. All these aspects combine to show how technology is taking over the everyday lives of individuals throughout the nation and various other parts of the world. Life without technology is essentially impossible in modern society.

  5. There are many benefits for a person that is transitioning to a smart home, as we experience the evolution of technology. These benefits are universal to any citizen with the capabilities to utilize, the advancements in modern technology. The smart home is an ideal innovation for: single people, families, the elderly, and an upgraded security system. When an invention or innovation has a thriving amount of pros, there are also the cons to examine on any issue. Do the positive outcomes of transitioning into a smart home outweigh the negative issues? I believe it is an important question that has to be addressed before, we can move forward on any issue.

    There are most definitely benefits to owning, a smart home regardless of a person’s age and lifestyle. It is beneficial to the elder who live alone because, if an accident occurs it may become difficult for them to call for medical assistance. In a smart home if the same crisis occurs like falling on the ground, all they need to do is call to Amazon Alexa, or the Google home for assistance. If you are the type of family that is actively health conscience and must record your healthy decisions. These health kicks may range from brushing your teeth, to monitoring the amount of hours you sleep each day. Then the smart home products are the ideal solutions to a person’s health monitoring needs. But, as we all know there are consequences that come with, the convenience technology grants us. Sometimes, we only examine the benefits of technology and fail to study, the negative outcomes that occur.

    I believe an invasion of the privacy is, the number one issue that always arises when dealing with the advancements and capabilities technology brings. According to the article, the technology in a smart home does more than the job it was bought to do. The technology around the smart home is monitoring, a person more than they can comprehend. We are also unaware that all this technology is gathering information on each individual to sell the data to corporations. They are using this technology to market to the consumer any way that may be possible. The most upsetting issue about a smart home in my opinion is that, these companies are finding loop holes around violating people’s privacy. When a person has to watch what they say in their own home, then you know our fourth amendment right is slowly withering away.

    In conclusion, I feel that we as Americans have lost the right to privacy and it will be an uphill battle to reclaim what, the constitution entitles for its citizens. It is a scary site to endure the fact that, a person who has smart technology in their home must watch what they say. The freedom of speech, one of our rights, is a dwindling site and may not be free as we all imagined. Are materialistic objects really worth the violations of our rights? What happens when we are faced with an issue that cannot be solved with technology? What do we do then? As the baby boomers start to step down and the millennials rise up, it becomes our time to make a change.

  6. Smart homes may appear to be a great innovation but it comes with many inconveniences and hazards. Having many different control systems in a house becomes very tricky when they are controlled by different programming systems. They all have their own specific guidelines, instructions, and manuals. Usually you can monitor and use all of the systems from your phone, which is very convenient. The problem kicks in when you confuse one system for the other, setting the wrong controls that should be used for another system. Also, your phone can only hold so many gigabytes of data. This too becomes a problem when your phone starts to freeze or shut done due to too many operations occurring at one time.
    The main hazard in smart homes would be fires, especially in a very family oriented atmosphere. With so much technology around plugged into electrical outlets, something is bound to happen. If children are playing around in the kitchen and they knock down a glass of juice, that can cause a huge accident. Also, if an outlet begins to randomly spark, and the spark hits a piece of wooden furniture, a fire might begin. This is just two of the many likely dangers that can happen.
    Although the idea of a smart house might seem great, there are many inconveniences and hazards that come along.

  7. What was so particularly astonishing about this article was that, at times, I forgot that I was reading a work of non-fiction written by bloggers. This piece read like something out of a fiction novel or an episode of Black Mirror or Twilight Zone. It really struck me that, this is not something that is coming, it is something that is already here; it’s not the future, it’s the present.
    Whether you are for or against the usage of Smart Devices, the legality of the practices of the companies collecting data based on the device usage are being called into question. The Federal Trade Commission has opened a dialogue with producers of devices that connect to the so-called “Internet of Things”. The FTC has emphasized how important it is for the manufacturers of Smart Devices to be more transparent with their consumers about the functionality of their devices in terms of data collection, that way those considering purchasing a Smart Device know the potential security implications (https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/06/ftc-offers-comment-process-aimed-improving-security-internet). One modification to existing policies the Federal Trade Commission would like to see made by Smart Device manufacturers is a notification to users in regards device updates and changes in security policy so that users can be more aware of what it is exactly that their devices are doing passively. This all being said, the Federal Trade Commission does acknowledge the potential benefits that the Internet of Things can have for the general populace, however, it simply wants producers to make it clearer what owning a Smart Device means in terms of security and privacy.
    While the prospect of Smart Devices interests me, I personally doubt I would ever own one up until the point that the devices are so heavily integrated into society that I have no other choice but to own one (which, so it seems, is a question of when rather than a question of if). To me, these devices seem to be another excuse for people to put their privacy in jeopardy in exchange for a minor convenience. I would much rather get out of bed and make myself a cup of coffee then risk being monitored by Smart Device manufacturers. This all being said, as I mentioned earlier, I do feel as though there will come a point that usage of these devices in our daily lives will become inescapable. Already, Amazon’s Alexa has become highly prevalent, with many households owning one or even more than one. I have a friend whose father owns a Tesla and even that falls into the Internet of Things: on his phone, there is an app that allows him to monitor the power level of the car, climate control within the car, and more. While I am intrigued by the potential these devices hold, I am a bit off-put by how intrusive they seemingly can be.

  8. It is not uncommon with today’s technology advancements that we are almost hooked up to everything that we own. We are constantly being tracked whether we know it or not. Our smartphones have the capability to be connected to almost any other device including refrigerators, computers, and fitness trackers to name a few. It has become something that if you do not have a “smart” house, then you are not up-to-date with what is considered to be modern. I am one of those people who loves having everything connected to each other as I put reminders on my phone on my calendar that I want to be told again while I am on my computer. I feel like everything just flows when it is centralized and I can find out what I need with the push of a button or the opening of an app. It is a very common occurrence in my house to be seen talking to a smart device as they are everywhere. If my Mom wants a question answered she just asks Alexa or Siri depending on where she is or what device is nearby. My family loves being able to be connected to something basically 24/7, though there are many downsides to constantly having your life tracked and watched by the technology companies. Sometimes it just makes our lives easier to have everything connected to one another.
    Even our streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu keep and track information about us. And we can stream Netflix from our Smart televisions so, from the television itself, we could be getting recommendations about what to watch or what programs we are watching. So our every move is being tracked even if we do not normally notice. If a refrigerator has the power to tell you that you need more of a product, then it should come as no surprise that our other devices such as cars, phones, and laptops can do the same thing. The article mentions that the author’s toothbrush activity can be tracked and monitored through an application on a phone, which to me seems crazy as brushing our teeth is something that we do so routinely and habitually that the tracking of that seems creepy. I am not sure if the application can say the quality of the brush, but knowing that my toothbrush can track me is just something I do not think I like or want. It is interesting to see how basic habits that we have are becoming as monitored as they are. If a toothbrush can detect when it is in use, I am certain that there is an application where it could tell you how frequently you turn on some lights and when you typically turn on lights. It seems like something out of a movie to think about your whole house being synchronized with technology, almost like an idea that would have been shown on The Jetsons. To me While technology like that would help make our lives much easier, at what cost do we give up our privacy?

  9. The interent of things is becoming an increasingly popular idea in our society. Being able to connect, monitor, and view what you do on a daily basis appeals to a lot of people. Personally, I use the internet mostly for my health. I record workouts, my smart watch counts the steps I take, and I input how many calories I eat. All of this helps me to manage my life, and watch my progression and improvements in health. This is the message that tech companies want to send to its customers. Management, and the feeling of control. However, your information is being used for so much more than just that. In the article, Kashmir converted her home to a “Smart Home”. She decided to completely integrate her life with connected things. From her coffee machine to her sex toys, they were all integrated. One criticism I have of this is the fact that she integrated everything at once. She did not look at usability, and how it could actually apply to her life and needs. This is what led to the frustration and feeling of inefficiency with the products. However, she was doing this for an experiment to see what her devices were telling others about her. What she found was not surprising as much as it was disgusting. Companies and third party sellers know a lot about your life. They can tell when you brush your teeth, what time you go to bed, what shows you are addicted to, and anything else that you might feel is personal to you. For me, after using different apps to monitor my health and feel like I have control over my life, I started receiving different advertisements focused on me. I started seeing advertisements for gym memberships, different protein supplements, and other workout tools. I did not like it. I felt like there were too many people looking at my personal life. I know that these advertisements are most likely based on algorithms and machines, but the fact still remains that my life is easily accessed by a lot of people. This also begs the question, what else do they know about me? The internet is a tool that is a necessity in our everyday lives. It is a serious concern when my overall privacy on the internet is violated by those who want to make money through advertisments, or those who want to know more about me.

  10. As soon as new AI technology was released a few years ago, the idea of having a completely smart home teased the mind. Now, you can fully control basically any part of your home while you’re not even there; well, sometimes. After reading the article and seeing the exact reality of having a fully-functioning smart home, its apparent that making life “easy” and “smart” isn’t exactly smart at all. Not to mention all the money it would take to completely convert house appliances, smart homes seem to create more of an annoyance than ease.
    The only AI technology my house has is the Amazon Alexa. We just recently bought it for my mom on Christmas, and taking my observations from the past few times I’ve been home it seems that the smart device sometimes isn’t smart at all. My sister just recently told me my dad got into an argument with Alexa because she wouldn’t turn off the radio. Now, granted that this instance was just probably my dad’s shortcomings with technology, it shows that the AI device can hardly work with humans and our normalities with the way we speak, act, and communicate. This can ultimately alter the way we work; as with the way technology develops, eventually we as humans will bend the way we act in order to abide by the way AI technology works.
    The article also talks about the amount of times the smart devices interact with the home router, therefore showing the privacy issue these devices may pose. I think this concerns me the most, in that privacy is a basically a privilege in this day and age, where we are always monitored through the cloud and our various technological devices. While the only two functions my parents know and use with Alexa include playing music and turning off one light, safety within privacy can still be a huge concern if more information about our home becomes available to the AI device.
    As a kid, my mind always wondered how amazing it would be to have a home just like the one in the Disney movie “Smart House” (I’d like to think that movie is a bit of a warning to 2018 me). The reality is is that a smart home, while it may seem really cool and helpful, will ultimately defeat us in the end. We would lose more communication and interaction skills, privacy wouldn’t be a concept, and we will inevitably become more lazy to do simple functions in our homes. You know how our parents always told us remotes were a luxury, and that they always had to get up to change the channel? I guess someday I can tell my kids that when I was their age, if I wanted coffee when I woke up, I’d just have to get up and do it myself.

  11. With the continuing advancements and growing demand for AI and it’s consumer applications, more AI products and services are entering our households everyday. Although convenient, these new products and services may be collecting information we would not like to be gathered or shared.
    The internet of things is becoming a more popular idea along with smart homes and I believe it is the responsibility of the consumers to know what they are buying. But also the responsibility of the companies to inform us of their products capabilities. To me, it only makes sense that a company will inform you of what their product is capable of doing. Then it is the consumers job to figure out if there could be any potential threats posed by using a particular product. Through critical thinking and rational decision making people would know which AI products to buy and what not to buy. Even though I feel this would be fair for people like me and people who care about their personal privacy, I don’t think it is a fair way of marketing products to the majority of the population who don’t do much rational thinking before allowing an AI robot to map their home as a “vacuum cleaner” or track their daily sleep schedule as a “smart bed”. The government should force these companies to be more transparent and straightforward about a company’s capabilities and “intentions to gather data” from its user. Similar to an ingredients label on food or a warning label on cigarettes all people should know what they are buying.
    Revenues from the artificial intelligence market worldwide is projected to reach 59 Billion dollars by 2025 according to statista.com (https://www.statista.com/statistics/607716/worldwide-artificial-intelligence-market-revenues/)
    Apart from invasion of privacy I also believe that AI products and services can greatly benefit many people’s lives, especially people who have a physical handicap. In particular, people with physical disabilities or sight loss can more easily do things like turn lights on and off, turn their thermostat up or down and turn on home appliances using AI products. This will be a huge advancement in helping the disabled through new technology in the future. Using AI for applications such as this is paramount to the evolution of society. Just hopefully companies won’t share the personal information they can gather through operating and maintaining these devices.
    In conclusion, artificial intelligence has shown its value over and over and is here to stay and will be developed further in the future and integrated seamlessly into our homes to the point we won’t remember how it was humans lived without it. All homes will be smart, all products will have AI integration, and all of our lives will be uploaded and tracked by our internet service provider. The only thing that I hope happens in the future is to see our country and other first world countries as well, adapt the federal laws and regulation to prohibit the selling of personal information through use of these products and services. I think we will see a “war on information” in the near future when people finally get tired of allowing companies to buy and sell their browser history, know their sleep schedule, track their television habits, map their homes, etc. This will be when real legislature will be passed to protect human rights against invasion of privacy and more and people will begin to see the good side of AI intelligence and its practical applications to progress human civilization.

  12. I have never been a fan of “smart” products, my dislike of them is however not rooted in the privacy issues surrounding them but instead the fact that they don’t do anything yet. As the article pointed out the author’s biggest issue was that the “smart” products were more of an annoyance then an asset. I happen to have an Amazon Echo in my home and it goes thoroughly unused just like Siri does in my iPhone. The technology just isn’t there yet, to the point where anything having to do with a voice command only works 25 percent of the time so it’s much quicker and easier to just do the whatever it is yourself. Another interesting point made by the article was the lack of unity and compatibility between her “smart” products, meaning that she needed a myriad of different apps and accounts to make it all work which is understandably a nuisance. Despite this I am confident that a substantial portion of including myself will buy these products to maintain a “smart” living space come the near future. I confident in this because the current reservations I harbor a temporary and don’t exist as systemic issues but as small speed bumps.
    I believe the “smart” home as an idea very is sound, just like a normal appliance the goal is to make life more convenient and a “smart” home seems like the next logical step in that process. As of today having these products doesn’t really do that since most of the time the more complex ones just don’t work. The solution to this problem and the problem of too many apps is apparent in that the market needs consolidation. Instead of every product working as a sort of patchwork project, companies should be focusing more on designing their devices with this in mind. This is exactly what Amazon is doing, (https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/102115/top-10-companies-owned-amazon.asp) Amazon has been expanding for years trying put itself in the forefront of all the aspects of everyday life. This is shown with its huge investment into Alexa, and its acquisition of companies like Whole Foods, Twitch.tv, IMDB, Audible, Zappos, and most recently Ring. Those companies I listed along with products and services such as Amazon Prime, Kindle, Fire TV, and Echo; show Amazon is trying to be in every corner of your home. Amazon will be able to provide you with everything thing you might need to buy or consume in everyday life ranging from things like food and clothes to music, TV, movies, and books. They are trying to provide for an environment where you will never have to leave your home and they want to provide you that with a host of interconnected Amazon products designed from the beginning to work together.

  13. Reading this article opened my eyes to amount of invasion of privacy that occurs every day. The author of this article had an enormous amount of courage to essentially allow herself to be spied on by these companies as she knew that these companies have a history of doing that. The author is not new to technology and knew what she was stepping into better than an average American who connects a device without thinking of any implications. Personally as someone who has recently begun buying smart devices such as the Amazon Alexa I have begun to worry about the invasion of privacy. The author had a modified router that allowed her and her college to see what information was be sent from their house back to the company. The author who was well of the risks was even still surprised by the lack of privacy as shown with a video of her nude was recorded by her motion sensor camera. The husband in the meanwhile was very skeptical as any informed reasonable person would be and then proceeded to unplug the motion sensor camera. With all the spying and information being sent out of the house, the question should be asked who really owns the product? When you buy a coffee maker then why is there any reason for the machine to send any information back to the company. The most absurd part is that there was a day where the coffee machine was connecting back to the company about 2000 times. With all these “smart” devices being brought with a pretty penny you would expect it to be used for your convenience and your gain, instead its being used for the companies gain also. That right there is simply absurd as you’re paying for the right to be spied on. I believe as the next generation we should be more informed to the basic spying occurring, and we should put our foot down and tell these companies to stop this. Thankfully the author was willing to sacrifice her privacy in the name of informing others of the massive amount of data being sent back to the companies and hopefully informs and inspires the next generation to stand up against this.

  14. Being a smart home sounds like a great idea but is it? I don’t know if I like the fact that my home will be essentially a science lab computing personal data about my life. On the bright side, most technology is voice activated or automatically functions when you use it such as the bed mentioned in the article but it does not take much time for me to do it. I can see both arguments to why a smart home would be a good and bad idea and honestly I don’t know my own opinion. I believe on paper, it is a fantastic idea but will it start to make me feel watched?

    Smart homes are there to create an easier and more accommodating lifestyle. You won’t need to rely on yourself or others but instead on the AI technology. They will maintain the home clean, remind of your schedules, and etc. The only skepticism is that are all my appliances private or being monitored by someone. A good example is the idea behind Amazon buying Ring, the doorbell company. It will give the Amazon customers the option to open or close the door for the UPS person by a click of a button and watch what they do. It simply serves as a security measure but the camera is not only watching the people who ring your bells but the neighborhood. It watches every time you enter and leave home analyzing what you buy and have around with you in the house. This brings me back to my old argument that I do not want to be observed like a lab in which all I do is give data to these companies. That is too much power for them to know so much about me.

    It seems to be very beneficial from the aspect of making things easier and the purpose of technology is to simplify and improve tasks but there are lots of red flags for me. I question the purpose and trust of these companies who do not see us as people but as money. They only desire for us to buy their products and realize that one customer cannot affect their profit and simply will do anything to bring in more money.

  15. I found this article very interesting, relevant and thought provoking. One of the most interesting pieces of the article is when the author stated that when you buy a smart device, it doesn’t belong to just you; it also partly belongs to the company that manufactured the device. The first thing that comes to mind when we mention a “smart” home is the privacy aspect; as well as the annoyance issues that were mentioned by nearly every device that the author used. Because these devices ‘call home’, they can be changed and programmed to do functions differently or even added or unwanted features that the manufactures decides to implement with software version releases. I find many “smart” devices rather suitable for my daily needs, but I draw the line where direct communication occurs – devices like Alexa (and other similar communication modules) and camera devices. There is something about the listening piece that doesn’t sit well with me. I enjoy such devices as “smart” outlets, light switches and few other similar electronic pieces to take care of the daily mundane tasks. The article made a great point, as there is no set “standard” on when, why and how they ‘call home’ and how much information is sent, obtained and where the data actually ends up. This fact is something I find very troublesome and isn’t clearly explained to consumers that enjoy these devices. To the consumer that is not very tech savvy, but enjoys the features of these products; has little to no clue of the privacy concerns, data collection/mapping and use of the captured data.
    The most disturbing piece in this all is the March 2017 repeal of the Obama-era legislature that now allows ISP/Broadband Providers to use, sell and collect this data that you are sending across the wire. The big question is – how is it being used and who is it being sold to? Could it be for marketing or for an illegal means? When it comes to smart devices, the question is – do these devices actual yield any relevant or useful information or data that these ISPs can salvage and sell? As mentioned in this article, companies like Hulu are actively sending data across the networks – unencrypted, allowing anyone with the right devices to see what you are watching, when and how much. We must face the fact that this law is repealed, making it a first rate priority of these “smart” device manufacturers to do a better job encrypting and implementing advanced security algorithms that will protect the data from those wishing do someone harm (i.e. hacker) and ISPs alike. I read another very interesting article some time ago that mentioned taking to the “offensive” against these ISPs – in a very passive type of way. This method includes filtering all of your network traffic through a VPN (Virtual Private Network), recording and playing that data back over the network. This doesn’t get rid of the problem, but it add a small amount of additional data to the network – making the pattern of life and usefulness of the data that much less useful to these ISPs. As long as you enjoy the convenience of these “smart” devices and they are connected over a network; there will always be a vulnerability.

  16. Today you hear of all this smart technology; smartphone, smartwatch, and even smartTV. Aided mostly by Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, this technology is making its way into other machines and other parts of our lives. It’s getting more advanced as time moves on, inching closer to the type we see in science fiction movies. It’s not fully in our cars making them capable of driving themselves just yet, but it is already in our homes. Refrigerators, vacuums, thermostats, speakers/sound systems, lights, locks and doors, coffee makers and even beds can be controlled through a device such as an iPhone or Amazon’s Alexa. In an article posted on Gizmodo, a writer, Kashmir, tried an experiment of converting her apartment into a smart home for a while to see what it’s like. She had connected pretty much everything she could-a coffee maker, her bed, her toothbrush, Christmas lights, a TV, and a security camera-and connected it to their router, which was monitored by her colleague, Surya, to watch the devices communicate with each other and with their home servers located outside the home as well as to see what information the devices were collecting about the home. The results were kind of unsettling for me. The devices could tell what you did in your home and when you did it. Most disturbing was that their Vizio Smart TV had been recording data on whatever they watched or did on it and had been selling it to advertising companies and then was able to track other devices on the network with the same IP address to see if they searched the web on something related to what was on TV. And it was in the privacy policy. Kashmir mostly seemed to be annoyed and frustrated with the devices failing to effectively communicate and work with each other, rendering themselves practically incompatible; and claimed she had several problems getting the many smart devices to work. Only sometimes did Alexa actually do what was asked. If Kashmir said ‘Alexa, turn on the Christmas lights’, Alexa at first recognized it as a group, but later stopped and so Kashmir had to do it one by one, or manually. Alexa also had trouble communicating with the coffee maker and wouldn’t understand ‘Alexa, brew me coffee.” With the different devices, from different manufacturers, unable to effectively communicate with each other, doing things manually, or even having things like your coffee maker on a timer, is just easier. The smart technology, especially with appliances, is still in its early forms, but in the future, once mastered, will probably work perfectly and seamlessly across different brands replacing things like our manual light switches. I personally don’t use or own, nor have any plans to use, smart home devices. Besides being a pain to set up and to use, I find privacy to be an issue. Companies and possibly the government can know everything about you: what you like, what you have, what you do, and when you do it. With devices that monitor your health, they might even know things about you that you don’t know about yourself. Another annoying thing is that you have to have multiple apps and accounts to control and monitor everything. I agree with Kashmir’s statement that ‘smart homes are dumb’, but someday will probably have to live in one.

  17. As technology advances in society today, the more readily available it becomes in our homes. With new devices, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Echo, and their competitor Apple’s Siri and SmartHome, these were meant to make the lives easier for people to multi-task while at home. Recently, there has been the introduction of other “smart” devices: such as the smart T.V., “Smart” radios, etc. In a single voice command, the devices produce the content that the device owner made. But what the shocking thing that is being discovered is that theses technology saves the history or events and analyzes it. Essentially, it “learns” everything the about the owner in order to make optimal recommendations based on past orders and functions. Many of these devices analyze trends within a sample of the owner’s history. Pairing recommendations are based on different measures: time, content, level, etc. This creates an eerie feeling amongst customers of these products. Many people are telling stories of how their devices are basically “alive”. In one instance, a couple reported that one of their smart devices automatically sets when lights turn on/ turn off in their house even though it wasn’t given instructions to do so. In another person’s experience, his smart T.V. analyzes his Netflix and Hulu services and chooses the movie/show he watches based on the time in the day/night even though he never instructed his T.V. to do so. With the devices today, it creates a “sci-fi” reality like the case of the famous supercomputer, HAL 9000 from the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. This supercomputer was known to analyze the personalities of trends of each astronaut and essentially becomes sentient and “alive”. This reality is starting to become more present today. Which each new technological advance, many of them are starting to become more invasive to our everyday lives.
    In my personal experience, however, I have yet to live through this. My only experience in this matter was through my laptop and IPhone. Whenever I do online shopping, my devices collects “cookies”, an Internet system that creates a history of what I have bought in the past. In turn, it creates ads catered to things I might be interested in. Based on the personal accounts of customers, however, I completely believe that these devices do have downsides. In one person’s experience, it took her hours to connect all of her house outlets to a main device. However, when she gives a command, these devices respond by either not completely following through or simply doing another task instead. Also, I believe that these systems are very costly. For many systems, they can charge you more to buy different products/services that will give you better access/range of devices. In one example in the article, a couple said that it was a hassle that they thought they were buying one product, but ended up buying many apps to make different appliances compatible with the smart device. Although technology is meant to improve our lives, this is one instance of where technology can prove to be a hassle for people and also invasive of our lives.

  18. The intention of a smart home is good, but the means of achieving the intention are bad. The idea of living in a house where almost all of the work is done for you sounds ideal—the less work done around the house the better, right? The prices of these conveniences, however, are privacy and a false sense of security. Having a camera in or outside of the house can be helpful if you want to monitor an infant in a nursery or identify a burglar. Even products like a smart TV, smart coffee maker, and a smart bed as the articles mentions can be incredibly useful in connecting to the internet, making coffee on the fly without pressing any buttons, or tracking your sleep schedule, respectively. But even still, the thought of a smart product in your house, watching and listening to your every move regardless of whether you wish to be observed or not, is unsettling.

    Kashmir states in the article that “talking to the human who actually got to see and analyze my smart home’s activity made me realize just how deeply uncomfortable it is to have that data pooled somewhere.” When smart products are used, the data has to go somewhere. If it does not go anywhere, the company that produced it would forgo a ton of money earned from market research. This means that someone out there in the world is in charge of monitoring, and using, the data gathered from your home, and unless you are in an experimental situation like Kashmir, you will never know who that person is.

    The article also suggests that smart products actually make our lives more annoying than efficient. Having someone in your home at all times of the day asking and begging to make your life easier sounds like it would make your life more burdensome, if anything. Having a bed that lets you know that you had a rough night of sleep should seem pointless, since you will feel lousy in the morning. Telling a machine to make your coffee can not be that much easier than pressing a few buttons and making the coffee on your own. Smart products can easily become obsolete once we put a little bit of effort into completing tasks on our own. Sure, they can make life easier by eliminating a few nagging tasks here and there, but this should not come at the expense of our privacy. Our homes should be safe havens, not computer science laboratories.

  19. Smart homes are the new future. Everything from your front door lock to your refrigerator, will one day be “smart.” But we must ask ourselves: is it really a smart decision to make every aspect of our homes smart? Well, theoretically yes. However, the world is full of dangerous people that can take advantage of this technology and potentially hurt you or your family. Hacking is becoming more and more prevalent in society, and with this new technology burst in homes, the general public is more at risk than ever before. Additionally, companies can record data on consumers and sell those data reports to buyers. For example, I am currently the Chief Operations Officer of an ecommerce retail platform that uses this method among many others to identify potential consumers more efficiently. Why spend countless dollars on a marketing campaign that may still be tailored to your audience, but is still distributed through a mass market approach? Well, this like previously mentioned costs way too much in dollars and time and your customer attrition rate will more than likely be through the roof. Therefore, it makes no sense to purchase information such as customer buying habits, recent purchases, and location. Your voice is only cloud-processed if you say a specific trigger word. Smart speakers are designed to wake up and record as soon as they hear one of their activation words. At the moment, devices are only capable of recording requests, but as their capabilities become more advanced, there could be more sensitive data collected, like transcripts from phone calls and dictation for emails. According to Infoworld.com, a recent test of home automation hubs, Symantec found multiple security flaws that could allow attackers to gain access to the hubs — and the devices connected to them. And if cyber criminals apply the tried-and-true ransomware model to smart homes, homeowners will find themselves coerced into paying up in order to regain control of their heating or smart TV. So how can you protect yourself from these risks? Well, live with no technology present in your house seems to be the only way. Unfortunately, the reality is most homes will have smart features built in.

  20. As artificial intelligent devices grow more popularity, the talk of security and privacy increase. After reading this article, I feel as though in today’s world, no one truly cares about privacy as much as we all say we do. Nowadays, our social media accounts reveal personal information open that we willingly open to the public. For instance, we share where we work, go to school, and who we are associated with, and what we just purchased, along with many other things. With that, you also have cellular devices or computers that hold our financial information and even intimate pictures. For a world that talks about wanting privacy, the majority of us reveal everything about ourselves without a problem.

    Moving along, I feel like it is scary and fascinating how what we seen on television is becoming a reality. In other words, we are living in a time where the impossible is becoming possible. You see, the idea of flying cars, which was once seen as a crazy and just a dream, now really exists. For example, AeroMobil, a Slovakian company, started selling its creation, the AeroMobil 3.0, in 2017. In fact, “the company claims on its site that the vehicle ‘transforms in seconds from an automobile to an airplane’ by using ‘existing infrastructure created for automobiles and planes.’ The vehicle is gas-powered and has wings that fold, which allows it to be parked like a car, though it is nearly 20 feet long” (Smith 1).

    And, now we have “smart homes” in full effect.

    Interestingly enough, this article puts me in mind of the Disney movie, “Smart House,” that premiered in 1999. In a nutshell, the movie was about a teenage boy, Ben, who won a fully-automated dream house in a competition, but soon the computer controlling began taking over and everything gets out of control. Throughout the movie, the computerized home, referred to as PAT, was programmed by Ben, handled all of the household duties in a mothering robotic way but, after awhile things take a turn for the worst. Of course, no one loves doing chores, doing dishes, washing clothes, or vacuuming, especially kids. So, when we have devices that take care of some of our day to day responsibilities it is very appealing. Not to mention, a robot that can prepare meals, which gives our parents a break. With these smart devices, convenience is key. And, with more time on your hands, the more time you have to be productivity in a another area of your life.

    On the other hand, socially smart homes are dangerous when it comes to the early development of the children. Having a robot in a woman’s voice, like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, being obedient to every command given can condition a young girl on how she should behave. And, teach the boys that girls are to be controlled. Taking it a step further, smart houses, with voices masculine or feminine, that follow your every command can make children struggle when talking to human beings. The reason being because these children may have become accustomed to speaking in a demanding, disrespectful way, and receiving a fast response, teaches them how to talk to others and most likely, they will not being accepted by others, creating isolation.

    All in all, I like the fact that that smart devices are convenient. Without a doubt, I feel as though productivity will increase with these devices, I also feel that everyone should be realistic on about what they are signing up for when they buy into these luxury items. Essentially, these products are only as smart as the programmer, so everyone should be wise when programming these devices and understand to a degree we lose of control of our privacy everytime we buy into and download all of our information into these devices.

    Sources:

    http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/17/autos/aeromobil-flying-car/index.html

    http://www.mtv.com/news/2196324/smart-house-horror-disney-anniversary/

  21. This article addressed two main issues concerning all the devices that we connect to the Internet, privacy and their inability to work the way we want them to. Our privacy seems to be taken away in exchange for smart devices that intend to make our lives easier. However, many times these intentions become more of a nuisance and a distraction rather than making life easier.
    A tremendous amount of data is collected from these devices and stored in data warehouses. The article talks about how many of the devices return information to the servers even though they aren’t being used. While much of this data is encrypted while flowing the Internet, when it reaches the end destination this data is turned into marketing and technical data for the companies. It’s not possible to think of this data as anonymous, our email addresses, home addresses, dates of birth, gender and all of the other information that is requested when registering the accounts are linked to this information. Many people appear to be educated on the fact that these devices return much of this data, but that doesn’t seem to slow the sales of these products (https://www.statista.com/outlook/279/109/smart-home/united-states#marketStudy). Regardless of the privacy concern it’s hard to give up the newest technology that is designed to make our lives easier.
    But as I sit in my home with the generator humming in the background and my cable and modem lights just randomly flashing due to the storm that came through yesterday, I can’t believe how dependent we have become on technology. The technology that I am referring to are the ancillary products in our homes designed for our convenience. I tried to cast a movie from the tablet to the TV, you can’t without the Internet. I tried to mirror my tablet screen to the TV, I had to download an extension to the app but couldn’t because it required the Internet. Finally, after all the frustration we had a novel idea, let’s put a DVD in. This was during an extreme circumstance but even in normal conditions when these devices don’t work the way they should it’s another item that causes stress throughout the day, just what these items are supposed to alleviate.
    The article touched on a few items that could become a concern in the future with these devices. Could our health insurance get a hold of some of this data and determine that we aren’t eating healthy or exercising enough or even brushing our teeth? The data is out there, Alexa and Google Home collect our grocery lists as do many refrigerators, wearable exercise devices collect our fitness routines, scales collect weight and BMI and the toothbrushes know when and how long you brush your teeth. What is stopping these companies from selling the data to health insurance companies.
    Most of the data that is sent back is encrypted but what if someone could attach to the lines or other broadcast media and monitor and unencrypt the data. A new thief would emerge, part burglar, part hacker. The thieves would know everything about the people and their dwelling. Where the jewelry and cash are, the layout of the home, their routine, everything that is needed to be a successful thief. Maybe these new concerns sound absurd but just as these items offer endless possibilities they can also offer negative consequences. If someone can imagine and create these wonderful items, someone equally creative can learn to manipulate them in ways they weren’t intended to be used.
    The bottom line is that we allow these devices into our lives to make everyday tasks less complicated. We accept the terms of these products and their software by signing off electronically that we agree to the terms of their use, which no one really reads. We consent to give our privacy away to fill our lives with the newest gadgets that at some point will frustrate us to where just as in the article, we get up, walk a few feet and hit the coffee button but the next day we’ll still purchase something new.

  22. The use of a smart home seems attractive at first but comes with the detriment of a company knowing literally everything you do. From your sleep habits, making a cup of coffee, sounding off an alarm, lighting, and other personal items. The taking over of technology brings a new name when it comes to making your home a smart home. One may think it is convenient, having everything done for you or from your smart device but it comes with a costly price; privacy.
    Imagine all the smart devices someone could set themselves up with and the countless accounts that must be made and those term and conditions that no one reads. Without many knowing, the agreement to the terms and conditions means we are giving consent to those companies to have our personal information. This includes, our bed time, what music we listen to, and even when we disarm our homes with security systems. This is problematic when say these databases get hacked. A fear that I can see in many people is their information getting leaked and then that information gets spread to the wrong people. Another person knowing your alarm code or when your consistent (or inconsistent) bed time is. Literally opening up the door for people to infiltrate your home.
    Of course, there are up sides to the use of this technology. First and foremost, the convenience to having everything on a timer or at your fingertips is most definitely convenient. No more getting out of your bed to turn the lights on or off. It can now be set on a timer or can be done manually through an application on your smartphone. Second, the simplicity of these applications is most important, scrolling through switches and making sure you know which one which is important when it comes to identifying certain lights. The use of artificial intelligence such as Amazon Echo or Google Home could be beneficial when it comes to transforming your home into a smart home. Saying “Alexa turn on the kitchen lights” instead of breaking out your phone, unlocking it, clicking on the app, then finding the right switch. This action is much more simple than going through the long process of doing it through a smart phone.

  23. “The reason I smartened up my house was to find out whether it would betray me.” (Gizmodo). Technology is much more integral in other industries, but a lot of people, including me, view smart homes as unnecessary. Kashmir Hill, the narrator, attempted the smart home lifestyle as one of the many skeptics of this technology. Hill upgraded her home to receive smart home features and she installed internet-connected services to gather information about her home and a special router to monitor the smart devices. Surya is the nickname for hills sentient home, and Surya recorded patterns of Hill’s life by collecting data trails about her and her friends. Everything recorded by this home device is also recorded by internet service providers, which Congress has allowed to spy on customers and sell their internet usage data. With all of these smart home devices however, they have access to much more than just internet usage. Any personal information recorded on these devices is also fair game for ISPs to monitor and sell.
    Apart from the major privacy issues, Hill also faced the technology struggles that come with any basic tech products. The products all require outlets which are limited in most homes and the constant usage will increase the electricity bill dramatically. Then came the problem of syncing all the devices which takes a lot of time just for technical glitches to mess everything up. Instead of telling Alexa to turn on Christmas lights, like Hill struggled with, why not just plug them in when you are using them and unplug them when you are finished? Hill ordered a special coffee machine, even more money, and compatible with Alexa to brew coffee. Hill and her husband argued with the coffee machine in the morning when it didn’t understand their requests instead of just pressing a button when they got downstairs. The next major issue was with the security cameras, which record any time there is motion or noise. This results in zero home privacy. The smart bed might be the weirdest, which asked for the email address of whatever partner was in the bed. Who needs to be told if they had a good night’s sleep or not based on sleep patterns; it’s usually pretty clear if you slept well or not. As beneficial as most tech products are, they don’t seem like they are making living in a home any smarter.

  24. When I was a kid, I often watched shows and movies on Disney Channel to improve my English. One Disney movie “Smart House” featured a teenager winning a fully automated house and the shenanigans that ensue. Interestingly enough, this movie was in 1999. To think that we are going to have houses that can talk to their occupants was a bewildering thought. Now, smart houses are becoming our new reality, thanks to the Internet of Things. As AI technology continues to advance, we are able to make our lives more convenient. However, of course, everyone is concerned about privacy. In the article, our narrator depicts her uncomfortable tale of her smart home recording her intimate moments. Interestingly, instead of making this another privacy issue story, the author argues that people should not live in smart houses because smart houses are annoying. This cautionary message is a nice break from privacy concern. As we become more susceptible to using technologies, we need to think about where this current trend may take us.
    The internet made our lives convenient in many ways. For students, they can instantly search for information about Abraham Lincoln for their book reports. For professional marketers, they can look for current youth trends for their research. For intelligence agencies, they can look for suspicious activities online when looking for potential terrorists. Growing up with the internet, I honestly cannot think of a time when I had no access to the internet. Actually, that is a lie. However, for most people today, they would not be able to function properly without having access to the internet.
    Therefore, my concern is whether or not if we are becoming too reliant on technology. Time after time, frequent storms caused a power outage, which shut down the internet for many residents in local communities. Last year alone, we experienced severe damages in Texas and Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, many residents are still facing power shortage in their houses. Now, imagine if Puerto Rico had smart houses. The next time places such as Puerto Rico contend with another hurricane, the situation for many residents could actually become worse than that for now. In other words, we, as a society, are not ready for the potential disasters that may come along with having more smart houses.
    Just a decade ago, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook and every one became excited about the social media giant. A decade later, multiple studies show the correlation between depression in young people and their Facebook usages. Russian hackers also infiltrated the U.S. presidential election via Facebook. With these in mind, we have to ask ourselves the potential problems that smart houses may pose beside invasion of our privacy. Only after we ask these questions can we embrace smart technologies.

  25. We as a society have become used to technology being applied into our everyday lives. It sounds relatively harmless to have so many devices that can improve our efficiency but it comes at a cost. These devices like Amazons Alexa or Googles Echo while nice function as basically listening devices that we buy and install ourselves. The kicker is that most of these devices can’t really talk to each other effectively, yet. However, the technology will get better as time passes making it easier to set up a “smart house”.
    I have concerns about how the data we generate is used, because who needs to know that I got up at 3am to go downstairs and came back 15 minutes later. But, I know that some company would find this interesting to advertise me sleep aids, mattresses, and maybe collaborate with other records to determine if I exhibit symptoms of a condition that maybe an insurance firm would be interested to know about before offering me coverage. I think that last one is a bit further away personally but not out of the realm of possibility. As this technology advances we need to be aware of how it changes the way we need to think about our privacy. As companies can turn around and sell your data it gives me all the more reason to keep doing things the analog way rather than give a company some extra income at my expense.

  26. Privacy is a rare privilege in this modern age. Experimenting with one’s privacy by adding numerous smart devices and creating a smart house may seem like a jump from having a smartphone or Alexa, but perhaps the difference isn’t as marked as one would hope. The only true reason one may want a smart house is to make life easier and that also is not a possibility because the different devices are not all compatible. When AI technology becomes more advanced, perhaps separate systems will work together more smoothly. Until then, having a smart house will probably be more of a chore than a time saver. Today, having specialized devices like a smart bed and a smart coffee maker allows companies to create a more complete profile, but the greatest surveillance still comes from the devices we carry and use every day. Phones, TVs, and computers can track what we want and why we want it through our searches and by listening and watching us.

    To here have to be certain limits on what information companies can collect. At this time, terms and conditions are perhaps the most terrifying documents we all sign daily and rarely read. In essence we are giving away our right to privacy for comfort and practicality. Even those who do not wish to waive these rights seem to have few options. Having a phone for example, is not technically necessary, but without one a person is limiting his or her ability to keep most jobs since quick and easy communication using technology has become the norm and a phone comes with certain apps and features that force a certain level of surveillance on the user. Although, these practices are legal, they are often unethical, especially because companies can easily change their terms of privacy without having to inform the consumer. Consent when it comes to voice activated devices like Alexa, is a also a grey area. Many parents use Alexa to monitor their kids, and those kids’ consent as well as any other person who enters a house with Alexa and is monitored, have not agreed to the same terms and conditions as the owner. Children do not have the ability to consent and parents right now have every right to manage their children’s online presence, but few probably think about how AI surveillance may affect their children in the future. The contracts that one signs online are also rarely meant to be read. There is not short abstract in layman speak that outlines what one is signing before one actually has to sign. This is presumably done to deter people from trying to read every terms and conditions contract and helps companies continue to use private search information to make money through advertisers.

    Companies are doing what is best for them by not pushing for clearer terms and conditions, but it is our responsibility as consumers to understand them regardless of how difficult reading every page of the contract may be. It is also our responsibility to be aware that our information is being bought and sold and understand whether or not we are comfortable with that and to what degree. In a sense, many of the modern marvels like Google and Facebook are only “free” because they allow advertisers and better advertising only comes from better data. If we, as consumers, demand more privacy we must also be prepared to understand that certain companies will need to begin charging for their platforms. One of my professors is the CEO of the Princeton Hospital, and he is dealing with these issues every day regarding new technologies. He vehemently believes that at some point consumers will have to realize and accept that all of their information is being saved, but that the benefits from these technologies will be so great that it will be worth it. Whether this is true or not is to be seen, but for now AI and daily surveillance is becoming an increasingly normal part of everyday life and we must learn more about it and be conscious of its use.

  27. As time as progressed and generations has gotten older, technology and internet has been doing the same. The article talks about how internet was placed throughout home to enhance the appliances and any object that could be connected to wifi. Having these devices connected to the internet can make the lives of these consumers much easier. Examples like telling Alexa to turn down the heat, turn on the light, for Kashmir, make me coffee. It can make the day run smoother and more stress free. The issue that occured for Kashmir and Surya was the data collection that was being sold to different companies. I personally see this as an issue as well. If made clear when purchasing these items that I would be having my data collected for further test and analysis I would mostly likely not purchase these items. I feel as though I should have the option to choose if my daily activities are being used. It would make me and other consumers feel like they are a part of the company they are purchasing from. I understand that there will always be new technology innovations taken place but there should be some type privacy that takes place. There can be benefits to data collection. Companies can find out what defects may be taken place with their product. What different features of their product is most used, what time of the day is most popular, what consumers buy their product the most and the list goes on. Using these data can allow companies to create products that interest you as an individual if not create them attract you to other products that may complement their product. Deciding whether or not to allow these products into your home is up you as a consumer. Giving power to these companies should always be a decision that the consumer should make. Informing these consumers should also be something that these companies are doing. It could make the view of data collection change for those that are against. Technology will continue to grow so informing yourself would be the best advice I could give.

  28. Saying that smart household devices are coming is a lie. They have already arrived. The first smart device to enter my household was a Samsung television several years ago. The primary reason for the purchase was an easier way to access Netflix’s streaming services, which we previously used a Nintendo Wii disc to accomplish. Since then devices all around America’s homes have been replaced with more intelligent counterparts. There are coffee makers, vacuums, baby monitors and more. All of which are utilized by Kashmir Hill in her personal experiment making up the substance of this article. With so many individual devices being made to connect to the internet and cooperate with the cloud, the logical next step is to connect them all into a network of smart devices capable of maintaining a home and daily routine for the humans that inhabit it. The goal of Kashmir’s exercise was to equip enough smart devices in her apartment to let Amazon’s Alexa coordinate them all in a fashion only seen in Science Fiction movies. To create a reality where Alexa could brew a cup of coffee, check on her daughter, turn on the television, and work as a personal homemaking assistant. What she found (rather unsurprisingly) was that this reality was not as easy to attain as is promised. Hill reported that she would often result to making her own coffee rather than pleading with an ineffective Alexa and that the motion sensing camera she used as a baby monitor would come unconnected from the Wi-Fi and produce an orange light that frequently woke her daughter up. These all serve as cautionary tales against the promise of convenience that comes with these devices, but they are merely technical and design flaws. These will be fixed in the coming waves of innovation on the horizon. We discussed these flaws in class at one point, echoing a sentiment that it is easier to manually perform a task than attempting to have a smart device misunderstand and poorly perform it for you. This inconvenience however, is only temporary. Alexa will one day be able to seamlessly connect devices throughout the house and perform tasks like brewing coffee without a hitch. The question then becomes is there any reason to avoid these devices once the kinks are ironed out?
    In the opinion of Hill and co-author Surya Motta, there is a major privacy concern. Human beings have a natural desire for privacy. While people become increasingly more likely to overshare on public social media platforms, they still expect a degree of personal privacy in their homes lives. For these devices to become as effective as we desire them to be, they must always be ready and always be learning. As a result, Hill’s smart devices would keep records of her family’s activities even when they are not in use. These records were then sent to outside servers multiple times per day, making it easy for Motta to paint a picture of the family’s daily routine through a look into the metadata exported by the devices. The focus of this article was not cybersecurity, but this insecure data represents a significant risk. Most of the people with these devices in their homes will connect them to their home router. With only a quick google search, multiple articles detailing how easy it is to hack into these insecure routers appear (https://tinyurl.com/y9h88463). We are slowly chipping away at our own personal security, privacy as time goes on, and smart homes represent the next milestone. I personally hope to avoid them as long as possible, but they will inevitably become convenient and necessary to stay in the loop.

  29. After reading this interesting article, I learned that having your belongings hooked up to the internet can be fun at first, but then it turns into a type of annoyance or irritation, like the author mentioned. In today’s Internet of Things era, there is no way that one person is offline. I believe it is virtually impossible for a person to not have data on the internet. Let’s say, for instance, a person is truly offline and does not input any of their information (credit card information, etc.) on the web. But they are still monitored by their laptops and phones from the camera’s they offer and by previously searched data. Nothing is completely turned off, take Amazon’s Echo, for example, even if you do turn it off manually, it is still on and records everything a person does even if he or she realizes it or not. This is a privacy issue that concerns me. On the contrary, I did think that this article made some important points regarding the convenience of having a “smart home” but it meant that the individual had to give up their rights of privacy.
    Furthermore, it was fascinating to read about how the colleague of the author was able to monitor her “smart home” and gather data based on what her family did on a daily basis. I also feel that it is disturbing to know that a home is constantly watching your every move. But, I do think that this push towards a more digital era is definitely giving individuals access to many things that were not readily available. Additionally, as the authors say, the way that people interact with their devices is providing very valuable information to government agencies and the advertisement industry. These data’s can be beneficial to these agencies and industries because then they would be able to accurately target the individual by personal preference and browsing history and help boost the economy based on the audience behaviors while using the internet.
    Overall, this article made some good points and raised privacy and asymmetric information issues that can alert a very observant person like myself. I would like to point out that it was interesting to see how the authors provided data in charts and figures to make their point. This helped me understand the whole situation of what is being monitored a little better. Additionally, this article really has me thinking of how advanced this society is getting and discovering new ways to connect each other and devices to make life more convenient and stress free.

  30. When I was little there was a movie called Smart House where a family got to win a house that was created with all technology, however, the computer system starts to take control of everything. This article reminded me so much of it. I always fantasized to live in house that was fully based with technology and I could easily control things around me. However, when reading this article I can see that technology can become very distrustful. Privacy is very important to everyone and any technology can take that right away from us. All of the information that was being gathered was saved and being sent to places for data analysis. Companies are also involved in this situation because they are the ones who make the devices and can create updates for any software’s.
    It was very interesting to read all of the devices she had to install and the process of it all. When creating smart house it takes a lot of preparation. The article was showing a lot of the negatives of the smart house. The more technology she had the harder it seemed to manage because if something went wrong with a device she was the one who had to fix the problem. She noticed that her voice commands were working one day than the next it forgot what she was asking. That became very annoying and even while reading it, I was saying to myself that I could never deal with all of that.
    It can be scary to think that there is someone always recording or watching every step you take in your home. Technology will continue to advance and people will be excited about it, but how far will our privacy be lost. The first amendment and fourth amendment and our freedom of speech can be taken away from us with all of the new technology being formed. When we buy a new device there are terms that we agree to and most of the time we do not read the agreements. This is where companies can create loop holes to be able to use the data the devises are retrieving without us knowing. To me, it seems as though people will still buy new devices even if our privacy is taken away.

  31. This article was a reminder of how far technology has come in the past few decades. There is a vast amount of technology available on the market today, but we have not yet learned how to integrate it into our lives seamlessly. Smart homes are not the norm yet, so the author of this article contributed to an important experiment. The information in the article is valuable for those who are thinking about enabling more smart devices in their home, and even for those just curious about how smart devices work and what kind of data they share.

    I found it interesting that so many of the devices were not compatible with each other. This can be due in part to a lack of planning by the author, but it is surprising that most of the devices were not compatible or easy to connect with the Amazon Echo. The purpose of smart homes is to make things easier for the inhabitants, not more complicated. If the author had planned her purchases out better, she may have been able to find similar products that are all compatible with the Echo, making for a more efficient and less annoying experience.

    The other interesting aspect of this article was how much information can be passively gathered from the use of smart devices. If someone can hack into your Wi-Fi network, they can find the same information that Surya did – when the family is home, what time they put their child to sleep, what kind of shows they are watching and when, when they go to sleep, and even when they brush their teeth or make coffee. This information is highly valuable to people who plan to break into homes. They can easily track the daily lives of a family to know when the perfect time to break in is, and even have a layout of the house if they have a smart vacuum. This leaves families with smart homes doubly susceptible; criminals will target them because of their economic status (only upper-middle class and above are able to easily afford all of these products for now), and the smart criminals will have an upper hand at breaking in, thanks to the information provided by the products.

    Advertisers also greatly benefit from all of the smart home generated data. Even though consumers are paying for the products, money is being made every day from the sale of those consumers’ data. In reality, should the consumers be the ones getting paid for their data, like the reality stars who consent to having information about them shown to the world? Consumers are becoming stars of their own show, but they are the ones paying for it, and the audience is data brokers and advertisers who use data to their benefit. Even if you do not have a smart home, most TVs today have some type of connectivity to the internet. So while you are not at as much risk of being physically robbed as those with multiple smart home devices are, you are still susceptible to having data about you known by any entity who is willing to pay for it.

    Although I do think that this thought is a little creepy, I feel like companies who do have our data use it in a manner that will eventually make life easier for consumers. The more they know about us, the more they can create and market products that they know we will like. There are negatives, like smart home data being hackable, but hopefully privacy and security will become more effective and prevalent as smart devices progress.

  32. Our every day products are slowly transitioning to be connected to the internet. At this point in time, you can probably connect anything to the internet. The idea that upgrading your consumer items into “smart” items seems tempting, but it may not be all that it seems. Using Alexa for voice commands can make every day activities easier and having apps for the products can help save time and money. The author stated that she wanted to try this out to see if the “smart house” would betray her. I am personally concerned with my privacy. With all my products being connected to the internet, the products are communicating back to their manufacturers with data. Clearly the items must pick up information, I would like to know if the information that is being transmitted from me is violating my privacy substantially.
    In the article Surya Mattu is focused on the author’s privacy by monitoring the devices that are monitoring her. Since congress’s vote to allow the ISPs (internet service providers) to observe and sell the data received, we have to be conscious of the data we are sending out. The “smart house” began to become more of annoyance than helpful. The amount of power strips and outlet expanders are a hazard to the safety of the house and the numerous accounts that had to be created for the apps became excessive. I think that technology fails and creates errors more often than the manual process of achieving something. If technology fails, who is to blame? I was satisfied reading the article because some of the technology is encrypted, so the network cannot get access to it. What if my data gets hacked into? You never really know what kind of data you are sending out. The data that we are sending out is being sent to manufacturers to create artificial assumptions about the consumer. We think that we are improving our lifestyle by increasing the amount of “smart” products we purchase, but are we really losing more?

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