Well, yes and no. Let us face it, we have all been in a situation where you’ve been discussing favorite shoes with your friends and just minutes later, your search feed starts prompting ads for Nike or Adidas. While it seems freaky to a large extent, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise to us all. Artificial Intelligence is a double-edged sword. If we all are looking for the convenience of speaking to Alexa about turning the lights out, we have to be aware of the fact that she is most certainly listening to you all the time.
Why would an app be listening to you?
Essentially, it is important to first understand that mobile apps and smartphones have the ability to listen to every word that you are saying, but not necessarily comprehending the information at all. This means that while your smartphones may be listening to you all the time, they are almost always focused or active only when you use the phrases that activate them. For example, words like ‘Hey, Siri’, ‘Alexa’ etc. Unless you use these words as a prefix to what you are about to say, there is no reason for the device to start trying to compute and comprehend what you are saying.
Which are the devices that can be privy to my conversations?
Honestly, the rate at which we have advanced these days, one has to assume that anything that has a speaker and a microphone is capable of listening to you. Regardless of whether it is a smart TV, your Alexa pod, or even your smartphones which we mostly carry everywhere, the possibility that technology is privy to whatever you are saying is quite high.
While many conspiracy theorists are convinced that there is a tie-up between various technological mammoths and governments who are continuously snooping on you so that they can take control of your lives, the actual reason behind it is much less sinister.
Why do they even do this?
The primary reason for the whole listening phenomenon is to make the user experience a lot better. Technology is moving forward with leaps and bounds and today, convenience is no longer a luxury, it is but a necessity.
We live super busy lives. We want to accomplish more within every minute of our waking time. This is why; people want to keep their hands free and continue to do what they are doing, while a quick voice search will assist them with their needs.
The second important reason why smartphones have started listening to almost all our conversations is for advertisement and promotion. Basically, the AI is programmed to catch on to certain catchphrases and assist in creating personalized ad catalogs which are also referred to as intuitive advertisements.
The example that we began with, of the shoes, is the best way to explain this phenomenon. It helps entrepreneurs globally to ensure that the ad for their products is only being shown to people who are interested in it, thereby increasing their viable lead count and ensuring a spike in sales. Whether you approve of this or not is a whole different question.
Hush Now, They’re Listening
When you think about all this, it is easy to put futuristic sci-fi movies into perspective and believe that someday (and very soon, I might add) it is entirely possible for an AI uprising. If you’ve watched the popular Netflix Series ‘100’, you know that it might not be the best thing for us and we’re definitely not going to like Allie.
We know that this question has been building up in your head: Is it Legal? Surprisingly, yes. This is completely legal because the moment you register into your device and create your accounts, you authorize the device to do that. Without the whole ‘I ACCEPT’ button procedure, your phone will not allow you to move on to the next stage. Our devices routinely pull together our voice data, store it in a remote server, and later utilize it for the purpose of marketing and promotion. Targeted advertising is the best example to prove this.
Do you feel Spied On?
Truth be told, social media has made our personal lives extremely porous. Today, there are large holes in security, not just because of the fact that your app is listening to you, but because you willingly share a lot of information across different platforms.
However, if the whole smartphone app listening in on your phenomenon is freaking you out and making you uncomfortable, there are ways in which you can go around this. Read the terms and conditions properly please and when the prompt on the app asks for permissions, are mindful of exactly what you are allowing the app to do.
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Of course, you may suffer by missing out on some cool features of the app such as voice navigation, etc. but it is entirely up to you to choose what is more important for you.
Alex James is the Digital marketing leader of Cubetaxi.com, An On-demand app Development Company. She has extensive experience in building successful strategies for the app-based industry. She loves to write everything about clone Scripts and multi-service app development.