The Fun of Having Our Gadgets Spy On Us (#GotBitcoin?)
Never Mind The Privacy Issues—Think Of The Possible Benefits! The Fun of Having Our Gadgets Spy On Us (#GotBitcoin?)
Last week, Apple disabled the Walkie-Talkie app on its line of watches after discovering a security flaw that could allow a person to eavesdrop on another person’s iPhone conversation. Almost simultaneously, Google admitted that it employs a small army of people to listen in on conversations between consumers and their digital assistants.
This follows the revelation last year by Amazon that one of its Echo speakers recorded a private conversation and then sent it to one of the people on the owner’s contact list.
Civil libertarians and privacy fetishists will react with knee-jerk horror to these developments, convinced that we have finally plunged into a dystopian Orwellian nightmare. Those guys are never any fun. The rest of have learned to accept and even embrace universal surveillance on its own terms and get a few laughs out of it.
The fact is, I was crushed when I found out that Apple was fixing that smartwatch security breach because I personally derive hours and hours of pleasure from listening in on conversations being broadcast from other people’s watches. It’s amazing the things you can pick up on. One day I think I overheard the Rolling Stones discussing whether it was a good idea to let a retirement planner sponsor their upcoming tour.
It sounded like it was coming from Keith’s watch. I couldn’t make out everything the boys were saying but at one point I did hear the words “You can’t always get what you want.”
Another day I heard a surgeon say: “Could you wash the scalpel before you hand it to me? And put that femur back in the refrigerator.” Then one evening, just before I was going to bed, I heard some high-powered basketball executive say: “Durant’s not going to the Knicks. He’s going to the Nets. The guy’s not an idiot.” When I trotted out this information at breakfast the following morning, my friends all laughed at me. They’re not laughing at me now.
Thanks to the eavesdropping capacity of my smartwatch, I’ve been able to find out in advance when sirloin is going on sale at my local supermarket, when my neighbor is giving a solo bassoon recital and when the Fed is raising interest rates. I also got an early warning about my brother-in-law’s plans to visit for six weeks, so I quickly feigned a typhus attack.
Thus, I personally was horrified when Apple disabled that Walkie-Talkie app.
Fun Time Was Over. For Now, At Least.
But a wider audience could derive similar enjoyment from the vast array of security breaches that abound in our electronic devices. How about a podcast featuring the eavesdropped private conversations of world leaders?
Thanks to that Echo device planted in the corner, millions of people could hear the unbuttoned Putin, the uninhibited Duterte, and Kim Jong Un after he lets his hair down. If I could speak Russian, Cebuano or Korean, I’d listen in too. Otherwise I’m stuck with John Hickenlooper and Theresa May.
Thanks A Lot, Alexa!
When people get hired to listen in on strangers’ interactions with their personal assistants, they’re supposed to be doing it for legitimate reasons.
But a couple of famous stand-up comics now admit that they have taken jobs as professional eavesdroppers just so they can steal material. What’s more, not all that material is lifted from other comics; a lot of it comes from conversations between dentists, hit men and psychiatrists.
The honest truth is: A lot of the material in my column over the past few years was forwarded to me by an eavesdropping Echo device out in Vegas. If Amazon has really shut down that security breach forever, I’ve had it.