Alexa, We Love You But Can We Trust You?

This is a photo of several items in my house and to the right is the device that controls them. I told you I am already a total geek. In reality, Alexa doesn’t control the oven or microwave yet… yet.

But many other objects are under Alexa’s control, including all the speakers in our house, and the music selections. The kids love being able to ask for songs by name, with Imagine Dragons being the current obsession.

Having a voice assistant to connect to the temperature, television, and vacuum is an amazing experience and does simplify interaction with these devices. Sure, its not perfect, but its perfectly better than it was last year, and these voice capabilities are growing exponentially.

So as I continue to update and connect more devices to Amazon’s Alexa, I also question the data I am sharing back to Amazon or other vendors. For example, my seemingly harmless Roomba is making creepily accurate maps of my home like this one.

That’s not my house, but my map looks just like that.

So now Alexa knows the shape of my home, how many square feet it is, and where I have furniture or “obstacles”. But iRobot, who manufactures my Roomba vacuum robot, also knows this. Or do they?

In reality, Alexa knows when I ask to start and stop the vacuum, but probably not the dimensions or details of my home.

iRobot, on the other hand, definitely gets my data, and their Terms and Conditions outline that very clearly.

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