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Are They Listening?

The Way Technology Taps in to Our Conversations

Hey Siri, do you listen to me?

Technology is all around us, and the amount of technology we have in our home is increasing everyday. Many of these new technologies have raised some questions about privacy. Whether it be Alexa or our cell phones, numerous accounts suggest that they are listening to us. This is most likely not the first time you have heard this debate, but it recently happened to me first hand.

I experienced this first hand when I was talking to my colleague. Recently, I was telling him about the organic drink Bai since he had never heard of it. I recommended it to him because I have always found it delicious myself. The surprising part of this is that no more than 24 hours later, an add popped up all across his social media such as Facebook and Safari. Some will say, "Oh well you have probably just searched it before," but he had never even heard of it let alone search it up on the internet.

This however is not the first time someone I know has experienced this. Friends and neighbors alike have experienced something along the line of this situation. Since this does happen to numerous people, it may put everyone else at ease. If it is occurring to large numbers of people, it shows that if these advertisements pop up (if technology is listening to you), you are not targeted.

The question I now have is who is listening? It could be keywords much like the way Amazon Alexa responds to “Alexa.” But if it is listening for keywords, wouldn’t it technically have to listen to our entire conversation?  Or maybe it does listen to our entire conversation either way. The worst case scenario would be if it was an actual human being tapped into our devices, but at this point in time that does not seem as plausible due to the amount of people it would take to monitor every cell phone. I think it will take a lot of time and investigating in order to really answer who is listening, but for now, we can only be skeptical.

It is also unclear where this information goes once a certain software or company has it. If we are being recorded, private information contained in that conversation could be in the hands of corporations. And even worse, if that information is leaked it could be put into hands of thousands or even millions of people, whether it be health records or credit card numbers. These microphones that we think could be listening to us have already been causing negative psychological affects on people. People have anxiety and now watch every word that leaves their mouth. That also brings on the “well people wouldn’t have to watch what they say if it’s not something bad.” Theoretically that is true, but people should still be comfortable talking about personal records or healthcare in their own home.

What is the solution to this problem? Technology has become such an important piece of our lives for work, leisure, and communication. We can't just get rid of our devices, even though I don't think any of us could in the first place just due to social expectation. In today's age can we even still count on government regulation? Just look at the Facebook data scandal.  If they couldn’t control their data, who can?

As this is my first article on Vocal, I would love to hear your feedback and your opinion on this piece! If you really enjoyed it, please share to your friends via social media or word of mouth! Thank you very much for reading and stay tuned for more work!

Derek Mihalecsko
Derek Mihalecsko

Derek Mihalecsko is primarily a lifestyle and technology writer. He also likes to write about anything that peaks his interest at a certain time whether it be sports, product reviews, current events, politics, or history.

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