Lifestyle

Our Devices are Listening to Us

In today’s generation, practically everyone carries a smartphone anywhere, anytime. Be it to work, when out with friends and in the bathroom. Whilst many are aware that our devices are collecting and processing our personal data, such as where we are, most are now becoming concerned that their smartphone is actually listening to what they are saying.

Although there may not be sufficient proof to back this claim (actually there is, just try it yourself), it isn’t really that far from the truth. Researchers across the world are working on developing powerful audio tracking devices that can change the ball game when it comes to personal privacy. A lot of information relating to our demographic background can be revealed from our speech alone! If that is not enough, there is another audio artificial intelligence technology that can tell whether you are lying, your current mood and if you are drunk. This artificial intelligence technology may extend to the interpretation of attitude in discussions and conflict between people. One of the artificial intelligence technologies created in the past months analyses the tone used between couples and determines whether they will stay together.

This is done by analysing millions of recordings where associations are created, and the characteristics are placed under certain labels or categories. The level of information which could be made available is astounding, but what would happen if such data falls in the wrong hands or is used to make more money out of people?

This is what it actually is! This data can be used by companies such as Google to sell us more products based on the discussions we have in our personal environments. Would you be comfortable knowing that the devices you have at home, which are all connected to the internet are processing your personal discussions and using them against you to sell their products? Imagine the power that search engines hold and how advertisers would want to leverage this technology to make more money for their companies.

Technology has indeed provided us with convenience, but at what cost? We have devices today that can switch the light on and off for us and position curtains to our preference, processing our data whilst doing so. Whilst this technology can assist us greatly, it can be used to understand our motives and predict our behaviour.

In this regard, many technology companies indicate that users are in control and are only recorded if they allow their device to do so. Many organisations like the World Privacy Forum have highlighted the importance that consumers are not victimised and should be given a clear pathway to opt out or withdraw their consent from having their data processed.

Next time you download an App, just make sure you know exactly what you are subscribing to.

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