Why smart products are too smart for us

My father sent the family an email last week, saying that it will be interesting to see how this product will go. It was a link to this video.

Now, I have very strong feelings about the vast increase in smart devices entering our lives and this is yet another concerning product, at least in my opinion.

Why so paranoid?

Whenever I see new technology, I am reminded of this quote.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke

For me, this quote reminds me that the average person doesn’t understand what this new technology does. The more concerning development in modern times is that the average person does know what the new technology does… and doesn’t care of the implications of it.

So when we see all these smart devices that are linked to our mobile devices and no information about what is really done with the data that is used, I get concerned.

Now, I am somewhat hypocritical in that I own (and am currently wearing) a smartband, while also owning a smart scale. At the same time, when I bought them, I rationalized them by thinking about how they would be used to sell me things in the future. I figured that they would be used for exercise-related products, so that would ultimately be a good thing. There are plenty of other ways to track my movement (like my mobile phone), so that was not a concern.

When I look at other products, I look at the example of the Roomba. People forget that they are connected to Wi-Fi and collect the layout of your house so they don’t bump into walls. It means that if you have an unsecure network, people could technically steal your floor plan to work out how to break into your house, or make it swear whenever it hits something. Equally, iRobot (the company that makes Roomba) could share the details of your home with Apple, Google, and Amazon. On a separate note, you could decide to use the floor plans to make Doom maps. The fact remains that it is a lot of data.

It is hard enough when Facebook and major companies are tracking our behaviour to the point of predicting what we might be interesting in buying based on what we talk about in a party.

Smart assistants

Whenever you install a smart assistant, they are ALWAYS listening. Despite the protestations of their providers, the reality is that they must always listen in order to be ready for your command. That makes them less secure. It has been shown that at different times that Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google have been listening to our conversations. You don’t know which companies has been listening to your conversations, on top of the generally accepted knowledge that governments have the capacity to listen to its citizen’s phonecalls.

Given the wide variety of smart assistants, there is also a wide variety of search engines to choose between. Google is not the automatic choice for all smart assistants, as Microsoft’s Bing is highly popular for voice searches.

Privacy in general

It certainly doesn’t help when seemingly anyone can track you through your phone, whether it is the maker of your Chinese-made mobile phone censoring terms remotely or an Israeli spyware company adding spyware. It’s already known that there is enough information on our mobile phones to track people through our mobile phone locations, before people go crazy about 5G and shit like that (remember, if you think 5G is a problem – you need to give up ALL electronic devices and become a hermit in the countryside to get away from the radiation… and even then, there’s no guarantee that things will get better in terms of radiation).

Given the amount of ID we generally carry on our person at any one time, the number of websites we have signed up to, and the amount of information that is already floating out in the world about us – you don’t need a smart assistant or a large number of smart devices to make your life easier. If you do, I believe that you need to assess the convenience of these products with the loss of privacy you are willing to give up.

What do you think? Where do you think the balance lies? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!


One thought on “Why smart products are too smart for us

  1. I’m kind of a minimalist, so I tend to have very few extraneous items lying around, but I’ve found smart iterations of most things to be pointless. Like do I really need a weighing scale that syncs to my phone? Or a TV that needs the internet to function? Sometimes I prefer simplicity, so that’s where my balance is. Anyway, thanks for this post!


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