The Smart Speaker Dilemma
Internet-connected speakers are amazing little devices that people either love or hate. On the one hand, they can be so very useful for home automation and just making life a little bit easier. On the other hand, people are understandably concerned about an always-on listening device being in their home.
I will admit that there are definitely some concerns about smart devices that listen. They occasionally have weird yet funny glitches, and sometimes there are genuine technical issues that just shouldn’t happen, like mistaking other words for a wake command and recording conversations. In early months, some test units even recorded everything. However, I think some people are quick to make a snap judgment based on a single article or opinion they heard, rather than verifying facts, or reading the details and understanding context.
When this type of behavior spreads, you eventually wind up with a portion of the population that believes this type of technology and every company that makes it, is out to get them and invade their personal life. In most cases, I believe this is simply not true. In my reading on smart speakers and devices, I have yet to come across a technical bug or glitch that was not promptly resolved by the manufacturer. If you know of one, please leave a comment!
Convenience vs. Privacy
A balance exists between the conveniences of modern technology and privacy. Being a privacy-minded individual, I’ve realized that there are only two basic schools of thought when it comes to using connected technology and services.
Option 1 – Don’t use any modern, connected technology, at all. This basically equals no internet. Without the internet, a lot of the things we take for granted become just a little more annoying to do. Need to transfer money or manage your bank account? Better get in the car and drive to the bank. Have something you want to share with a friend? You better hope you have their phone number memorized and if they don’t answer, I guess you could write a letter and mail it.
Option 2 – Use technology and accept the fact that you will have some kind of digital footprint no matter where you go. There’s no way around this in this day and age if you want to take advantage of many of the modern conveniences we’ve become accustomed to. You can, however, limit the size of your digital footprint through careful pruning of certain devices and services. You don’t need to be plugged in and online 24/7.
I’m not advocating that you simply throw caution to the wind and not care about your privacy. Companies do sell data, Google and Amazon do show you ads based on what you search for, and hackers do break into poorly secured systems and steal information. You should educate yourself on how your data is stored, where it’s stored, who has access to it and what is being done with it. Only then can you make an informed and accurate decision for yourself.
I’ve made my choice and will be reviewing the Google Home Mini in great detail, in an upcoming review post. Thanks for reading!