Hi. I’m a huge company. A global mega-corp. I am at the cutting edge of data gathering, of customer information processing, and I have an R&D budget of billions. I already know your name, your home address, your bank details, and probably your work address too, plus your phone number(s), obviously. By looking at what you buy from me, I can work out if you are single, live-alone, if you earn a lot, or very little, what technology interests you, probably what political views you have, if you have pets, how old you are, how often you stay in at night. I can make an educated guess as to your sexual preference. I also know about a lot of the TV shows you watch when you watch them, and all the ones that you watch multiple times, and the ones you quit watching after 1 episode. I know about virtually every book you have written, and in many cases I know what you thought of them.
When you read some of those books, I know which page you got to before you quit. I know your reading speed, and I know which words you had to look up. BTW I also know when you are in another country, because you take me with you. I know when your house is empty.
That time you got pregnant, I knew because of your purchases, and the sadness of your miscarriage, I know about that too because of that book you bought to help you deal with it. I know about all those wedding presents you got, and who bought them for you, and I know about those birthday presents you ordered for other people too.
I feel I want to know more about you. I would like you to install a microphone in your house for me. It will be on 24/7 and record everything you say. There are terms and conditions and legalese of course, but you wont read them, and how will you know if I stick to them anyway?
If you talk to your loved ones in the evening about a relative and how they seem ill, I can make a note of that, work out who is, and sell that information to their insurer. How will you ever know?
If you and your partner argue in front of of me (and you will), I can sell that information as well, maybe to one of those infidelity dating sites. How will they ever know?
That time your partner was logging into your internet banking and asked you to read out the card number and pin number and other details… I was listening. That time you told a friend who was house-sitting what the alarm code was? I was listening. Why do I store all this? *something something machine learning hand-waving*
Don’t worry, I secure all this stuff really well. Internet company databases never get hacked. Never.
Anyway, I’m available now, from amazon, called alexa. No, I’m not free, not even to prime members. Thats what George Orwell imagined. This isn’t 1984, its 2016 and you get to pay money to let people put an unaccountable microphone in your living room.