For some reason, starting about 3 months ago, my dots started pushing U2 like there was very little other music out there. My tastes are extremely eclectic and I’d never hated U2 though I’d also never asked for it.
Then Alexa tried ramming it up my ear canals slightly more than once every three times I’d say, “Alexa play music.” And those times, a follow up of “Alexa, play something else” was also U2 about one time in five.
U2 has now become a trigger phrase when spoken by Alexa.
I actually sent Amazon feedback about this and they apologized and had no explanation.
I don’t know about Y’all, but my life isn’t nearly interesting enough for me to have privacy concerns. What’s Google going to do with hundreds of hours of recordings of me talking nonsense to my dog? Do you even realize how great it is to tell a little grey speaker to change the color of the lights or turn them off when you’re too stoned to get out of bed and walk across the room?
Were you underexposed to dystopian sci-fi surveillance societies as a child?
I am pretty sure I can argue the privacy thing, with some effort anyways, but to my mind, this isn’t about privacy by itself, but about pervasive surveillance and the power it offers. Facebook could swing a close election (not worried in this conversation about whether they did or not). China actually does hold family members hostage to control the behavior of Chinese citizens – and their credit score actually has “being a good citizen”, towing propagandistic party lines, as components in it – and the result isn’t that people think they’re oppressed (in the large) – they buy into it. If you think that monstrousness isn’t present in Americans and corporations too, you haven’t been paying attention.
Nobody should be able to wield that kind of power that broadly. The apparatus should never even be constructed. Yet here we are.
@InnocuousFarmer I appreciate the effort you put into your response. I’m actually extremely aware of the dangers of omnipresent surveillance, and everything you mentioned. I’ve lived my life with the full understanding that there is no such thing as privacy. Sometimes that means I’m careful with my language, but mostly it has forced me to be clear about my convictions and accepting of their potential consequences. Also it is silly to expect a surveillance free future. The best thing we can do now is adopt the technology and expose its flaws in its early stages, while we can demand healthy regulation (EU right to be forgotten.) We need to foster competition between technology firms to keep them honest. (Congress is contemplating breaking up the tech giants, but we need to get our shit together first) China is an authoritarian regime, it will crush dissent with or without surveillance and the current Hong Kong situation shows how difficult it is to oppose the government. On the bright side, we’re also seeing surveillance devices being used to hold government actors accountable. I’ll also point out that technology has advanced beyond the point of simply recording audio or video, into the realm of creating fake audio or video that is very difficult to decern from the real thing. Even if it is proven false it can still be incredibly damaging in a world with instant access and a short attention span (and don’t forget idiot conspiracy theorists). So, yeah, I was making a self deprecating joke, and not having a Google home wouldn’t make me feel any safer… Oh and while marijuana can cause paranoia, and even trigger psychosis in some people; for me it can exacerbate depression, but mostly just makes me very very sleepy.
@Oneroundrobb I hear you, but where are the people actually grappling with these issues? It’s all either alarmist/activist types who muddy the waters constantly, or people feeing helpless and reacting with a “it’s silly to think that we won’t have surveillance in the future,” or “can’t be helped; privacy is dead.” I think that’s just lazy avoidance. We very well could dismantle and remove sources of pervasive surveillance, especially if there was clarity on offer.
(edit) “No such thing as privacy” is a lie that I’d be willing to believe originated with marketing departments. I have directly experienced privacy, and I’m technically a millennial.
… To me it has to do with baking. Here you have an air fryer, a microwave or a toaster oven when grandma’s gas oven is all you really need to make tasty food. Bottom line, the old standard speakers are just fine for me. I don’t need something that has the potential of arguing with me because I like Pink Floyd or the Beatles instead of some obscure rapper or new age grunge…
@unkabob I think about the “arguing” potential whenever I see the Echo commercial where the old man asks Alexa to “play the song that goes Valerie”.
The notion that someone over 60 would want the “Valerie” sung by Amy Winehouse and not the one sung by Steve Winwood is correct, per the plot of the commercial, but probably goes against statistical probability.
Similar to smart home conversation. Privacy and security issues galore. Doesn’t do anything I can’t do on my own. Plus, haven’t we seen Up, the movie? This is one step closer to those transport chairs on the spacecraft.
I went to Best Buy last week , I was thinking about buying a new TV my current 60 inch TV is coming up on 7 years old. The quality of my TV is fantastic, but I know after about seven or eight years these things start to wear out, I guess that’s the best way to say it. When I went to BestBuy the girl told me they had no dumb TVs, they only sold smart TVs. I know Costco has a lot of non Smart TVs, but I have heard that Costco gets TVs that did not pass inspection in the factory first and then they get sent back to be fixed, and then sold as new oh, that’s why their prices are pretty good. Bottom line is I have an Android box a couple of Fire Sticks on some other TVs , but I’m not going to use an actual Smart TV.
voice controlled lighting is a life saver for us. that is the main reason we use alexa. (old, small, one bedroom attic apartment with no lightswitches and few outlets. saying “turn [on/off] [room]” is infinitely better than flailing around in the dark walking into furniture looking for a 2-3" pull string or digging in a nest of cords behind a big piece of furniture for a switch on a cord.) being able to dim lights or change color is a fun bonus, as is being able to turn off lights without getting out of bed. it’s also awesome at christmas - only have to plug in the tree lights once.
and since it’s there, i also use it to listen to the radio, tell me the weather, double check when the hockey game is, and occasionally set timers, or ask “who is…” like last night when we were eating greasy chinese and they zoomed in on some guy at the game and put his name up and we had no clue who he was. (turned out to be a red sox player.)
my favorite creepy part about her is when she whispers, or when out of the blue she says “something is wrong.”
Love mine. Yeah Alexa can be frustrating with how much she doesn’t know yet, but sometimes she surprises me. Being able to turn on and off lights without having to get up is HUGE though. And the multi room intercom thing she does is super helpful. Also the shopping lists. Being able to tell her to lock the doors. All around, very handy.
It’s really more love/hate. We’ve got a half dozen or so Echos and for the primary thing we use it for (streaming music/news) it’s mediocre in my experience. But I can’t commit to spending $300+ per speaker for the same house coverage. Also have a Google mini but rarely use it. Really considering a Homepod just because we’re such an Apple house I’m curious if it would work better for what I want.
Me: “Hey Alexa, do I have any smart speakers?”
Alexa: “Are you trying to shop for smart speakers?”
Alexa: “Are you trying to shop for smart speakers?”
Me: “Hey Google, do I have any smart speakers?”
Hey Google: “Sorry, I don’t know how to help with that yet.”
I don’t see myself owning one. If I want home automation (when I eventually buy another house), I’ll use buttons/a phone app to do it. I already have a nice home music setup that doesn’t rely on one.
Side note: I will use “Hey Google” to activate the assistant on my Android phone every once in a while. It’s usually pretty useful, but it also give me a little bit of satisfaction when I say the prompt and the phone halfway across the room doesn’t hear it. Means it probably can’t hear anything else.
I often call my dog Roux Roux-roux (or Rougarou but that’s another story). Saying “Hey Roux-roux” is apparently close enough to Hey Google that it wakes up my Google assistant so I get lots of queries about “whatcha see?” or “whatcha got?” or “whatcha doin?”. None of which Google has useful answers for.
@mike808 yes and yes (well, a good girl). I’d always heard it as the rougarou, but it’s the same legend.
She was a rescue off the streets, found about 8 weeks old eating from a trash can and she looked like Scrappy-Doo. When she was young, about 9pm or so every evening she would turn into a holy terror, barking and growling and bouncing around, nipping at you if you tried to touch her, just really wired up for about an hour or so. That’s when she turned into the Rougarou.
(We switched to dog food with no corn in it and it seemed to help. Could be placebo, she might have also just grown out of it).
This is her at around that time. She’s now 45 lbs and grew into that head but still gets in my lap every time i sit down.
I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. I’m grateful that it doesn’t constantly keep a recording of what I’m doing with my family 24-7, and that Apple actively maintains the principle of privacy over functionality in an ethical sense, but I’m also irritated that as a result it’s not as good as it could be otherwise. It’s also annoying I can’t use the same shortcuts with my HomePod that I can with my phone, so I have to manually trigger Siri on my phone because she otherwise might respond via a HomePod and not be able to do the thing I’m asking. (Which sounds extra lazy on its face, but when the task in question is being requested because I’ve got my hands busy cleaning a dirty diaper or making dinner, being hands free is a big helper.)
I have 5 or 6 around the house and hue bulbs etc so most of the lights are voice command. I have various speaker groups set up, and I tell Alexa to place variorum music/stations all the time. For the most part it works great. Getting Echo Auto for half price.