The future is listening

The future of tracking is rapidly approaching; and it will be tied to and integrated with all the home smart devices. Does this truly benefit you, as the consumer? The stated “benefit” is more targeted advertising (is this really a benefit?).

This article from the New York Times (briefly) explores how “Samba TV” is being integrated into smart televisions (with 90% of users opting in after a brief statement saying it will “help recommend shows and provides special offers by cleverly recognizing onscreen content.”)

Once enabled, it tracks nearly everything that appears on your TV screen (from any input – tv, streaming content, games) on a second-by-second basis. Because it can monitor content from any internet-based source, it knows your meta consumption data, not just the information Google knows from your browser based behavior, or your cable provider from which TV shows you watch, or Netflix which knows from your choices. The tracking goes across all of these, and more.

Always listening devices don’t currently use your television screen as an output device, but what if they combine voice recognition with the content from those “always on” listening, applies AI to it so that it intelligently understands and ties together what you’re saying + what content you’re consuming? It’s not a big leap to that.

And will it be used for more nefarious means? The US government has recently stated that it intends to keep track of, and create a database of journalists, bloggers and social media influencers (trouble makers, all!).

Personally I hesitate strongly to bring any listening or smart devices into my home. But I’m afraid I’m fighting a losing battle, because ultimately every device will be “smart” and I won’t be able to get any that aren’t.

Where is the outrage over digital privacy, and ownership?  People seems to be welcoming these devices in with open arms (90% opt in at setup?!) with nary a thought to who’s listening, what data is being collected, access to what companies know about them, and what it’s being used for.

If the recent public outcry (however brief) over Cambridge Analytica and what personal data is collected, and can be used for isn’t triggering any mass protests, what will?