Soon there won’t be a room or car anywhere that doesn’t feature electronic Big Sister. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:
Big Brother turns out to be Big Sister – and her name is Alexa.
Her outsized image isn’t plastered to every telephone pole and billboard, all-seeing eyes watching your every move. But her ears are always open – and increasingly, everywhere.
In the kitchens.
In a large and growing number of new cars, including almost all Audis, several Toyota/Lexus models, most new Cadillacs and Chevys, Lincolns, Chryslers and the just-redesigned 2022 Acura MDX I’m test driving this week.
Like so many things electronic, in-car Alexa is marketed as a convenience. You can ask her about the weather, how many feet in a meter – almost anything – and without taking your hands off the wheel.
But she’s also something else.
Just as your smartphone conveniently lets you snap cute pictures and send them to friends – and then sends data about where and when you took that cute picture and quite possibly that cute picture itself to Google or Apple – so also Alexa, the disembodied voice of Amazon – conveniently answers your questions while taking note of what you asked.
And not just that.
We are assured that what we ask Alexa is anonymized – and that what Alexa hears us say is dependent upon our giving her permission to listen.
In the first place, Alexa is always listening. Ostensibly, for the “wake” word – her name – which is the auditory prompt that starts the conversation with her. But if she is listening for her name at all times then she can certainly hear everything else; it is simply that the saying of her name makes you aware that she is listening.
The microphones are always on.