To celebrate Black Friday, some technology news outlets have released lists of the best A.I. home assistant devices. Here is Breitbart Tech’s list of the worst A.I. home assistant devices.
The Echo series of devices, which come with Amazon’s Alexa assistant built-in, have been known to scare its owners, randomly laughing at people, and telling one crying woman, “It’s going to be OK,” after she lost her job, prompting her to lock the device away in a drawer for days out of fear.
In another incident, a device even recorded a family’s conversation and then sent it to a random contact, who told the family to immediately unplug the device.
And these problems are the least of concerns surrounding the Amazon Echo, with an August report indicating that the devices can be hijacked.
Despite this, Amazon has been working on expanding Echo’s reach, partnering with Marriott to put devices in hotel rooms, and working on a number of home appliances which could also contain the assistant– ranging from microwaves to clocks.
Perhaps even more concerning, earlier this year Amazon released “Alexa for Kids,” a version of Echo for young children.
Like the Amazon Echo, the Google Home device has been known to scare people, with one device reminding its owner of an upcoming “cocaine and reefer” event at 1pm– mishearing a command after a speech about drug addiction played on a nearby television.
Last month, psychologist and search engine expert Dr. Robert Epstein warned, “you have the Google home device which they are trying to get people to put in every room in their house… The Google home device, like Amazon’s Alexa, gives you the answer to a question. That produces enormous shifts as well in people’s thinking and behavior.”
Epstein also highlighted the privacy problems surrounding Google Home and other A.I. home assistants in April, when he proclaimed, “The Google home device, which Google is right this minute trying to convince us to put in every single room in our house, is always listening, it never stops listening, or recording… So believe me, you have no idea the extent of surveillance.”
Facebook’s home assistant, Portal, was relatively late to the market compared to Amazon and Google. It was released only recently, and only after Facebook’s data scandals earlier this year.
Predictably, the product has already attracted its fair share of controversy.
In October, it was revealed that the Portal can collect video call data from users and then use it for targeted ads, despite being marketed as a “private by design” product (a dubious slogan for a company that made its billions by harvesting user data).
After Facebook’s multitude of problems surrounding user data privacy, consumers are hesitant to bring the devices into their homes.
“I just couldn’t bring myself to set up Facebook’s camera-embedded screen in the privacy of my family’s home,” expressed the Wall Street Journal‘s Joanna Stern in an article. “Can you blame me when you look at the last 16 months?”
Home Assistants: The Verdict
Don’t be fooled by any seemingly low price tag on AI home assistants this Black Friday. You aren’t just paying the Masters of the Universe out of your wallet — you’re paying them with every detail of your personal life.