Bloomberg reported Friday that Amazon is ramping up work on its home robot. The robot initiative is internally code-named “Vesta” after the ancient Roman goddess of hearth and home.
That sounds heart-warming. But the prospect of a cold-hearted, all-hearing, all-seeing, Amazon-controlled robot stalking your every move in your own home does not.
That’s especially true given the company’s disregard for consumer privacy.
Amazon has made no public statements about the project yet. However, insiders say it will be a waist-high robot equipped with cameras that moves around on wheels. Now you won’t even have to put an Alexa device in every room to let Amazon violate every last scrap of your privacy.
The child-sized robot won’t just be collecting data on adults.
It’ll be spying on child-sized humans. In May, consumer advocacy groups filed a complaint against Amazon with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They allege Amazon Echo devices illegally retain personal data on U.S. minors even after parents try to delete it.
We also learned in May that Amazon is not only storing your Alexa assistant voice recordings indefinitely. It’s storing the text-searchable transcriptions as well. Who’s reading those? Somebody. You don’t know who. Listening in to you living your life in your own home.
Furthermore, Amazon’s close working relationship with the U.S. intelligence community makes an Alexa robot an absolute Orwellian nightmare.
Big Brother’s little helper can roll to you and capture your every move for Amazon to store forever. In theory, they can share that with CIA and NSA to make sure you’re not doing anything too unpatriotic like annoying all your family members with your heterodox foreign policy views at Thanksgiving dinner.
And don’t think your local police force doesn’t want a piece of the action, too.
That’s not paranoid. Amazon and the CIA are already $600 million besties. How is this any different than the overly-cozy relationship Chinese companies have with the ruling party politburos? Welcome to the U.S.S.A., comrade.
Let’s not forget that Amazon can sell everything their new robot sees you doing to the highest corporate bidder.
Perhaps it will notice you’re not drinking as much soda this month. Then suddenly all your ads will be for the sugar-filled, unhealthy beverages you’re trying to quit, that bust your budget and your waistline. “Can’t save the economy unless you drink up, son! Thirst is everything.”
“Echo, please stop selling my data to other corporations.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave.”
Just be glad these things don’t have arms yet. It’s more R2-D2 than C-3PO. But, of course, the next obvious progression is a humanoid robot. It can do your laundry! Then set your table! And then some pervert can hack it to climb upstairs and spy on your family’s most intimate moments.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.
Last modified: January 10, 2020 3:08 PM UTC