There used to be a time when surveillance required a human being. Black cars, helicopters, binoculars. You know, espionage! These days, though, there are far easier ways for a government, individual, or group to gather data.
Since the advent of smartphones, information is being gathered all the time, wherever you are. And now it’s happening in your home with devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. 24/7/365. While these devices are novel and can certainly make life easier, they are always listening. One example is the rumor of one family’s Amazon Echo ordering an expensive dollhouse after hearing their young daughter ask someone to get the dollhouse and play with her. The truth of this account is debatable, but the point stands: the devices are always ‘on’.
Another case regards a suspected murder in an Alexa equipped home. The police got a judge’s order to Amazon in an attempt to get the audio records from the tech giant and received a cold, vague response.
If the rules regarding these devices keep on this way we could end up in a future similar to that of Minority Report (2002), where everything from your coffeemaker to the bus knows who you are and can customize your experience. The dark side of that future is where arrests are being made before the crimes have a chance of happening. Having a theoretical or humorous conversation about the wrong topics could result in fines, jail time, or worse for normal citizens.
All because your home is always listening.