Unevenly Applied Principles

Oct. 17, 2020 [technology] [proprietary]

Numerous individuals have vehemently refused to accept personal voice assistants into their homes (rightly so) on the grounds of privacy concerns. Also noteworthy is their lack of consistency in applying these concerns. Let’s take an glance at what Amazon’s spyware platform, Alexa, has been cited as doing wrong in the eyes of the aformentioned individuals:

  1. Microphone always listening
  2. Application of human contractors to analyse voice assistant recordings
  3. Collected information is stored indefinitely and forwarded to third parties
  4. Collects far more information than is necessary to carry out its basic function
  5. Integrated advertising

Why then, are these same individuals so comfortable with the idea of running Microsoft’s spyware extravaganza; Cortana? Not only is it capable of all the same woes as Alexa, but additionally has direct access to the host computer’s files as well as receiving a far broader range of input data with which to conduct stylometric, psychographic profiling.

I believe sunk cost plays a role. People become so ensconced in relying on their existing devices and software that they simply accept the slow creep of new antifeatures as an inevitability. While they may make a concious effort not to acquire new devices or software which bring new antifeatures into their lives, they also feel helpless to do anything about the existing ones already present or silently being introduced into those which they already own.

- Alexa Cortana
Always listening
Recording analytics
Stores & shares all information
Collects more information than is justifiable
Integrated advertising
Direct access to user’s PC files
User input behavioral profiling