The Price of Convenience


Self parking and self driving cars, voice activated homes and phones that predict your buying patterns and knows your schedule and where you are going, the moment you hop in your car. All this tech gives us a lot of convenience but at what cost?

I remember how the internet for the public started out? It made it easier for us to search information and send messages via email. No more waiting for the snail mail and we can easily send pictures to family and friends. We already thought that was convenient. Now we can practically do everything with our phones. There are apps for all sorts of stuff. From the stupid to the productive. We can order take-out food and delivered right to our door, order a car service and track how long it will take before it picks us up, we can send money at a tap of an app, speak to our TVs and tell it what we want to watch, control the entire home with voice commands and the list just goes on.

When Microsoft was starting out, they had this great idea of giving away their software for free, having people get used to them and become so comfortable with their programs that we expected it on every computer in every home and office. Even those that used a mac still insisted on installing Windows office programs in their machines. Now Google followed the same formula and raised it to a whole new level. They really know what they are doing. Not only have they offered their apps for free, they have even designed it to be almost foolproof. Anybody can and does use them! Being user friendly is one thing, the impressive part is they designed their stuff around how people live. If you think about it, Google’s main attraction to its user base isn’t about apps, software or devices. It’s the “convenient lifestyle” they make life so convenient that it makes it harder not to use them. But what the catch? There is always a catch isn’t it.

Well, it’s Privacy. We literally just gave it away.

Just try reading any one of the End User Agreements that any apps disclaims before installation. We are gladly giving our privacy away to them with our permission. We allow them to use the GPS to track our location, so the app can direct us to where we are going, suggest nearby places or even people we know that are around the area. We allow apps to use the mics on our phones to listen in not only for our voice commands but also in our conversations. Notice how the ads on your phone suddenly relates to a subject you just had a conversation about? Then of course the cameras. We literally allow apps to access our cameras, so we can easily take and share pictures and videos. But who is to say that they would not use all that access which is supposed to be just for marketing, for something else? Who is to stop them from turning on your phone’s camera when you are in the shower while your phone is on the sink counter? Who is to stop them from selling all your information to someone else or even to the government? Sure they promise to keep our information safe and not share it with anyone but we have seen it time and time again, big companies, even the DMV getting hacked.

George Orwel’s 1984 novel is surely upon us. We just don’t know which big brother is actually watching and is in control, although we got better devices than what the author envisioned.

But for Google Users or I guess for anybody that uses a tech, may it be a smart phone, a laptop or anything else in between. Ponder upon this, not only do they track our schedule, our location, the people in our contact list, the food and things we order, places we go to, listen in to our conversations, record our voices, store our image, our fingerprint, collect personal information through security questions and read what we write and text, wouldn’t they have more than enough information to actually create an artificial intelligence that is patterned on us? the individual? After all we are just creatures of habit, of patterns. Collect enough patterns and you can basically predict how a person thinks and feels. And with all the information they already collect what is to stop them from building another you, or me.

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