Is Orwell’s Big Brother Listening To You? Of Course – Now We’re Inviting His Uncles & Cousins to the Party
-by Richard Eno
· The Facts:
Invasive technology provided to us by big corporations to 'enhance our lives' is becoming ubiquitous within our homes. These corporations have proven to be insincere and untrustworthy about their agenda and their promises to respect our privacy.
· Reflect On:
Passively supporting the vision of big corporations to increase the presence of technological ears and eyes in our homes may bring further degradation of our personal privacy and freedom.
It’s funny how some kinds of high-level malfeasance (wrong-doing) can fly largely under the radar in our society until some random, fluke event snaps us into a momentary state of vigilance. I say momentary, because our authority has become expert at minimizing the damage of such events and lulling us back to unconsciousness in short order.
A case in point came a few weeks back when a Portland, Oregon couple received a phone call from a person they knew, warning them to “Unplug your Alexa devices right now. You’re being hacked.” It turns out that this person had received a voice mail containing a private conversation about hardwood floors between the husband and wife.
And indeed that person had been correct in presuming the conversation had been sent by Alexa without the couple’s knowledge. The couple’s Echo device mistakenly recorded their conversation and sent it to the Seattle resident, who was on their contact list. The couple unplugged their Alexa-enabled devices after the recipient of the message confirmed the subject of their conversation. “I felt invaded,” the wife said. “A total privacy invasion. I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again because I can’t trust it.’”
Now, Amazon says that Alexa, the virtual assistant that powers Amazon’s current suite of smart speakers, interpreted that background conversation regarding hardwood floors as confirmation to record and send the audio.
This doesn’t jive with the couple not having any recollection of hearing from Alexa at all during the whole conversation. Oh, well, no matter… The explanation is really targeted at the general public, not the couple who have already declared they will no longer use the device again.
From all accounts, it’s reasonable to assume this incident was indeed a glitch. No ‘harm’ intended. But it is the kind of glitch that should make us stop for a moment and look at the bigger picture of what is going on here.
Firstly, it should be abundantly obvious to us that our authority can hear pretty much all our conversations and can record them any time they fancy. The fact that we are buying into the voice-driven technological automation of more and more of our household functions means we are essentially giving our authority carte-blanche to listen in on, record, pause and analyze whatever we say.
Not that we hadn’t been doing that already by virtue of carrying around smart phones with microphones. Siri and Cortana are at our beck and call, while Google and Facebook are now asking to borrow our microphone to enhance their own new voice-activated functionality.
Though we can find plenty of advice online telling us how to turn off the microphone itself, or un-link it from our applications of choice, I personally see this as a bit of a smoke-screen. It makes us feel like we have control, and can assimilate these technological gadgets into our lifestyles in a manner and at a pace of our choosing. What I think is really going on is that we are being acclimatized to allowing technologies to make many of our decisions for us, and more importantly to consider these technologies as our ‘friends’ (or for some, our ‘servants’). A dangerous leap of naivety indeed.
None of this should be taken to mean I am against technology itself, or doubt how technology has the capacity to make our lives better. I think of technology as neutral–neither good nor bad–and its capacity to be beneficial or detrimental is founded on the agenda and intentions of those who control it.
Oops. Sorry Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, et al, if you’re not on my ‘trust these corporations’ list.
Maybe I’m a little biased in this regard. I’ve written , to target us with political ads based on our preference that some have said swayed the 2016 U.S. Election. I’ve written to facilitate the eventual decision-making about who will be killed by drones based solely on computer algorithms. I’ve written , based on their acquisition of and secrecy around A. I. technology. Suffice it to say, I believe we have a healthy reason to be suspicious about the motives of large, powerful corporations, because their motivation BY DESIGN is to increase their wealth, power, and control at the expense of the rest of us.
The revelations from Edward Snowdon cannot help but make us feel the same way about government agencies, who work hand-in-hand with corporations in the Oligarchy we live in. Discovering among other things that the NSA was able and willing to listen in on and record conversations of world leaders, including allies, who must have had their own high-level anti-spying technologies in place, means that such agencies are technologically–and morally–capable of anything.
Of course, all these agencies and corporations will tell us they’re not doing this or that–until we find out. And if the initial attempts at denial do not hold water, then the damage control statements float in like butterflies, complete with cringe-worthy apologies and hackneyed promises to do better to protect our rights and freedoms.
What people like MZ really mean, if you read between the lines and behind the lies, is that they will try harder to make sure their true agenda and methods don’t leak out any more. As it is, we probably only ever find out about 5% or less of what they are actually doing that we would object to.
All this to say one thing: the powers that are currently in control of most of the technology being introduced to us today appear to be self-serving, immoral people whose organizations do not have the best interests of humanity at heart. There is overwhelming evidence that technology that WOULD be of great benefit to all individuals on this planet–healing technologies, magnetic and free energy come to mind–have been violently suppressed because they present a threat to the power structure currently in place.
While some technology like computers and smartphones have already become an essential part of our modern lifestyles, we might do well to resist introducing more technology into our homes and lives than is absolutely necessary, and prevent the Googles and Apples of the world from having a ubiquitous ‘background’ presence in our environment.
If and when a big collapse in the power structure on our planet occurs, and if in the aftermath we have reason to believe that those who are making and proliferating technology are doing so in the interest of human individuals, then and only then will there be reason to take down the red flags. In the meantime, I believe the awakened citizenry of our planet would be better off minimizing their buy-in to the tech-is-good sales pitches of large corporations, and thinking twice about inviting even more technological ears and eyes into their homes.