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That was creepy, though.

Yesterday was pleasant and relaxing. But there was this one startling moment.

We were about to get out of the car at one of our stops when Furrydoc’s smartphone suddenly screeched with a voice crying, “Alexa, play _____” (with the blank part being a particular streaming song list from Amazon).

The voice belonged to one of Furrydoc’s office staffers, and she recalled the moment the previous day they were all trying in vain to get Alexa to deliver them a little Jimmy Buffett for their Friday afternoon wind-down.

I think merely talking to Alexa is creepy enough. Furrydoc — having a gadget-minded family, money to spare, and a more modern lifestyle than mine — uses home and office electronics I wouldn’t want within 100 yards of me.

But although she recognized the moment the voice was recorded, Furrydoc had no idea why that command to Alexa should suddenly burst out of her smartphone a day after it was given. She checked and said she had no apps open or anything else that might cause Alexa suddenly to intrude on our pleasant day.

“Kind of like you’re being spied on,” said I.

“Creepy,” agreed she.

“Like the CIA is with us.”

“They’d be very bored, though.”

Of course, chances are she did have something open or did hit some button or … something. Likely there’s an innocuous (or as close to innocuous as tech gets these days) explanation for the eerie intrusion.

Still … that was a disturbing (not to mention loud) reminder that we’re not in much control of our supposedly personal tech. If she didn’t need that damned smartphone to take emergency client calls, I’d ask her to leave her wretched surveillance device at home.

15 Comments

  1. fred
    fred August 12, 2018 5:11 am

    I’d ask her to leave her wretched surveillance device at home.
    ————————————
    One of my nephews house is like walking into 1984.And he even has the crap all over his yard.I mean come on,you cant even go outside and get away from it.

    Just give me dog,its so much better and will actually DO SOMETHING if warranted.

    And doesnt spy on me.

  2. stencil
    stencil August 12, 2018 7:36 am

    If you shun technology while a member of a like-minded community, it may work, for a genertation or two. But as an individual(ist), making yourself ignorant of the techniques needed to control and limit the bots makes you all the more vulnerable to them.

  3. david
    david August 12, 2018 8:33 am

    I had a similar experience while checking on a daughter’s dog which had back surgery. She had left an old cell phone pointing its camera at him so she could make sure he didn’t get tangled up during his crate rest weeks. I had taken him out for a bio-break and was sitting there being ‘company’ for him, and I suddenly heard voices. Her personal phone was transmitting everything in her classroom to the one spying on the dog. And apparently it was because Alexa was somehow linked to her cell phone for some capability it provides that Siri doesn’t. And yes, I thought it was creepy too.

  4. Claire
    Claire August 12, 2018 8:36 am

    Problem with that thought, Stencil, is that tech is both so complicated and so rapidly evolving that an individual would have to devote an entire lifetime to keeping up with all the problems and dangers — and still not succeed.

    I don’t say everybody should shun technology (after all, I’m here, aren’t I?). I just say that adopting obvious spytech (like Alexa, like smartphones) without better understanding of who’s controlling it and why is freedom-killing folly.

  5. Claire
    Claire August 12, 2018 8:39 am

    “Her personal phone was transmitting everything in her classroom to the one spying on the dog.”

    Charming. I’ll bet her schoolmates would appreciate that. Sigh. Or perhaps they’d just consider it business as usual, these days.

  6. Joel
    Joel August 12, 2018 9:06 am

    Or perhaps they’d just consider it business as usual, these days.

    Keeping you safe from terrorism, one natural right at a time….

  7. Shel
    Shel August 12, 2018 9:15 am

    I’ve taken to putting electrical tape over the cameras. That way at least pictures can’t be taken without my knowledge and I can take pics when I want to. Having now allowed myself to get used to a smartphone, it would be difficult to go without it.

    One scary development is the availability of Blue Tooth controlled hearing aids. I would imagine they are extremely useful, immediately and almost infinitely adjustable, but it sure seems a great pathway for someone who wants to listen in on conversations. That has to be possible now, of course, but the use of hearing aids would make the recordings so much better.

  8. Iwoots
    Iwoots August 12, 2018 9:18 am

    “Like the CIA is with us.”

    “They’d be very bored, though.”
    ——
    Geez Claire!!!! Loose lips sink ships!! Now they know our evil plan of how to ultimately & permanently…..”pacify” them.

  9. Comrade X
    Comrade X August 12, 2018 11:33 am

    I just had my first Roxy experience this weekend.

    https://www.roxydevice.com/

    I found it rather useless, couldn’t even turn off the lights.

    It misunderstood most everything I said but that might be me because of my one of a kind dialect.

    One thing I did like is waking up as if the Sea of Cortez (waves on the beach noise that is) was outside your door, not something that I’ve found before on the wet side of the Cascades but methinks will become more common..

  10. larryarnold
    larryarnold August 12, 2018 12:00 pm

    And doesn’t spy on me.

    Ha! If it’s your dog, you’re under surveillance.

    Our Joplin tracks my cousin J, her owner, and my wife B, her favorite. I can wake her from a sound sleep anywhere in the house and say, “Where’s B?” or “Where’s J?” and Joplin will run straight to her.

    OTOH, she doesn’t seem to care where I am.

  11. fred
    fred August 12, 2018 6:59 pm

    Oh they just keep us under surveillance to ‘have our backs. Never spilled their guts to the cops.Theyve never phoned home to google,MS,or the NSA. And when there is a skunk around they run in to take the hit like a gyreen jumping on a hand grenade.

    Good dog! Good dog! Well,maybe not so good on the skunk thing at 2am!

  12. fred
    fred August 12, 2018 7:12 pm

    Wow!! That Roxy demo is creepy.If that was in my room if I could book elsewhere I’d be outta there.
    Or I would unplug it,or suffocate it with towels and stuff it in my suitcase or something.
    Tech my azz,that stuff is creepy evil IMO.
    No internet of things as long as I can avoid them.

  13. RickB
    RickB August 13, 2018 4:09 am

    I have had a smart phone for years. When I first got one, it somehow synched to google, facebook, etc.
    My first step was to change all my account passwords (from my desktop computer). The phone whined for a few days about not being able to connect.
    BTW, keeping my GPS and internet turned off all the time makes my battery last much longer.
    I’m glad I have a smart phone, though. Twice in the past two years I used Google to get unlost while out of state. Without the phone, I would have had to stop and ask for directions (gasp).
    Immediately turned data back off, of course.

  14. fred
    fred August 13, 2018 10:00 am

    stencil August 12, 2018 7:36 am

    If you shun technology while a member of a like-minded community, it may work, for a genertation or two. But as an individual(ist), making yourself ignorant of the techniques needed to control and limit the bots makes you all the more vulnerable to them.
    ===========================
    Ignorant of??? Because i think its horribly gov intrusive?? I am very aware of it thank you very much.
    Having a phone with a battery I cant remove,making it able to do what it wants,when it wants???? I cant even disable its tracking as ‘they’ control its functioning,NOT ME??? NO THANK YOU!

    If I did have a smart phone,it would live in a signal blocking sleeve until I needed it,then back into its blocker it would go.

    Cell phone tracking,license plate readers/tracking.I’ll pass when I can.I just got my notice to get my real ID,if I want to fly or enter federal buildings.Insane!!

  15. fred
    fred August 13, 2018 10:07 am

    Otherwise I will have to use my now ‘FEDERALLY RESTRICTED’ ID. Their words,not mine.WTH?????

    Freedom my ass! Im not even free to travel within my own country!!!!

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