Hey Siri, who’s Bixby? Bixby, what does Cortana do? Cortana, do you like Alexa? Alexa, are you and Google friends? Ok Google, what’s with all these new digital assistants? The world of artificial intelligence (A.I.) assistants has been rapidly expanding and it’s hard to keep track of every option out there. Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are once again dominating the front lines, but why did this all start? The intent for digital assistants was and is to help humans out by performing electronic tasks or services and when Apple’s beta version of Siri was released in 2011, the impending assistant showdown started brewing! Now, there are a few dozen digital assistants, but they all seem to have one big problem. At all times, they have an active microphone in hopes you will ask a question or give a request. And to top it off, we’ve seen some crazy stories in the media about our devices recording us and sending it to others. Are they always listening? Let’s discuss the main reasons why we choose to use digital assistants despite security concerns!
It’s Just Easier
Convenience is probably the biggest reason why digital assistants have become a thriving industry. When a new one is released, the features change and include more applications that are very appealing, such as automating chores like vacuuming and grocery shopping! Cleaning is less than thrilling, so if the option is available for a less human-interactive solution to this task, most people probably won’t care about the risky possibilities digital assistants may bring to the table.
The hands-free capability has also been a popular feature, because it gives easier access to technology to elderly and those with disabilities. Devices such as Alexa and Google Home connect with lights, ceiling fans, thermostats, motion sensors, and other household amenities, making it easier for people to stay independent and in natural living settings as they age! That’s not to say young folks aren’t taking advantage of this to! Smart houses are becoming more and more prominent on the market, because many people want to try out these new technologies! On the downside, “smart home systems are part of a larger suite of devices, apps, websites and spaces that collect, aggregate and analyze personal data about users,” and this is why many people question if the convenience is worth the lack of privacy.
So, how many people even believe that digital assistants are constantly intaking information around them? “One third (31%) believe that digital assistants only listen when the command is raised, another third (30%) are unsure and the final third (39%) believe the technologies listen at all times.” That’s 69% of people that are either unsure or distrusting, but, interestingly, 68% of the people that took this survey already own or use digital assistants. Frankly, it doesn’t quite seem like their paranoia over these devices out ways the convenience that they bring! But being cautious is still smart. By using the mute settings on smart devices, users can have greater peace of mind about their digital assistants!
Digital assistants have proven to be extremely helpful for people in regards to getting daily chores done or even simple tasks like turning on/off a ceiling fan. These devices are programmed to be constantly waiting for their name to be called, so the question remains, “are they always listening?” Maybe, but we don’t know! All we do know is that it’s a lot easier to ask about the weather tomorrow, rather than type it all out!