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Thread: Alexa and AI / Serious privacy issues?

  1. #1
    Super User Gordon Gray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Alto, NM

    Default Alexa and AI / Serious privacy issues?

    Hi all,

    So when I was in Seattle over Christmas, my nephew who is very tech oriented, had Alexa on the kitchen counter. And it was "fun and somewhat amusing"" to ask this box a question and receive the answer very promptly They also used it to set various cooking times for different food items and the box would chime in at the appropriate time to tell the person the food in the oven was ready.

    And then I saw the "Alexa lost her voice" Super Bowl commercial and it really hit. Have we become that dependent on tech and that we are apparently willing to put these "listening" devices in our home for the sake of convenience.

    My nephews indicated that this voice recognition / AI market movement is a train that can't be stopped and to expect more invasive (advanced?) tech in the future.

    Scares the hell out of me that an object(s) has 24 / 7 monitoring capabilities in the privacy of our homes.

    Thoughts appreciated.


  2. #2
    Super User Brad225's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Wesley Chapel, Fl


    I am with you Gordon. It is bad enough that Phones and Laptops have cameras and microphones. My Wife and some friends would laugh at me because I would have a piece of tape over the camera on some of the equipment our house.

    I was vindicated when a Friend (sorry this is going to be a bit vague) that was the head of the SWAT team in a major city. He told me how they were using current technology in the field.

    During a mass attack they determined what cell phones were in the building. Then by connecting to peoples phones and using the cameras to see what was going on inside the building they were able to locate and kill the shooter.

    For as much as it creeps me out there is clearly an upside.

    It is kind of funny but I think Elon Musk is covering all of his bases by funding AI in one company but also trying to get to Mars with another company as he doesn't trust AI once it gets to higher levels of self learning.

  3. #3
    Super User amey01's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Queensland, Australia


    Scares the hell out of me that an object(s) has 24 / 7 monitoring capabilities in the privacy of our homes.

    Thoughts appreciated.
    Thoughts forthcoming.

    What you don't understand will have the propensity to scare you. That said, I agree that there are definite security concerns which need to be disclosed.

    It has nothing to do with the technology - heck, microphones are not new technology and have been around for years.

    What is scary is there implementation thereof; and what the companies are doing with the information, and how they store it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad225 View Post
    I would have a piece of tape over the camera on some of the equipment our house.
    I laugh at people who do that too. For someone to remotely control the camera in your device, they need to have broken in to your device.

    If someone has broken into your device to remotely control the camera, then there are a lot more interesting things they can do rather than stare at your mug-shot as you use the device (or stare at the inside of your pocket in the case of a mobile device). Keyboard logging, bank details, password harvesting, read messages, siphon the photo gallery, GPS track you to name but a few. Suddenly, the camera looks rather boring, right?

    Ironically, when you cover the camera, in most cases people also cover the hardware-wired LED which could be potentially the first indication there is a security issue with the software!!


    Ultimately though (and specifics aside) - we have to be very careful with where we have taken ourselves with technology. Technology controls absolutely everything we do. We couldn't generate electricity, pump water, run our cars, sanitise sewage, operate the financial system and economy, etc without it.

    We are at the point where you can't even withdraw $100 from your bank account without at least 100 computers, all over the world, doing what you command - instantly and accurately. One hiccup in all of that (eg. unable to connect to a server in Germany for a security key validation; or unable to connect to a server in Northern Japan for time-sync) and the world as we know it will stop.

    I don't think we have enough contingencies.
    Last edited by amey01; 02-14-2018 at 03:34 AM.
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