Help Me Grow | United Way of Utah County

Guest Post: Alexa, Cortana, Siri and Google Assistant: AI in your home

We are excited to have Carrie Rogers-Whitehead from Digital Respons-Ability back for today’s guest blog post.

Have you recently bought a virtual assistant for your home? Another word for a virtual assistant is an artificial intelligence, or AI. These tools are convenient for remembering numbers, sending reminders, purchasing items and more. More and more of these devices are coming into homes. Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reports a growth of 200% in these devices from 2016 to 2017. Amazon is currently dominating the market and “won” the 2017 holiday buying season.

Amazon started offering Alexa in 2014 and Google followed up with Google Home in 2016. Along with Alexa and Google Assistant (the AI that runs on Google Home). Apple has lagged behind in in the voice assistant industry, but is predicted to make a big impact with their HomePod using the Siri AI in 2018.

One reason there;s a virtual assistant turf war going on is the long game. By choosing a virtual assistant, you choose a platform: Google, Microsoft, Amazon or Apple. These assistants interface with those proprietary platforms, Google talking with Google and Apple with Apple. Therefore, the decision to buy a virtual assistant is a decision on what brand of technology you will use.

Another less obvious reason for the fight for home AI dominance is personal data. There’s a reason these companies have been offering steep discounts for these devices. These discounts are recouped by collecting personal data. Usage statistics are shared with developers, ads can be curated on your preferences and they can even record what you say. This information is stored until you delete it, and it can be hacked.

Perhaps this isn’t an issue for you, but it’s something to think about when children are in the home. Beyond them making purchases without permission, their information can be recorded and shared. If you wouldn’t share personal information about your children on Facebook, why would you share it to an artificial intelligence?

Some tips to protect you and your family’s privacy with Home Devices are:

  • Put it on mute when you’re not using it
  • Delete your voice recordings- For Google Home go into and for Alexa log into the Settings -> History
  • Turn off voice purchasing or require a PIN number on Amazon products
  • Disable personal results on Google Home which can link to Google calendar, payments and more through Settings -> More

AI isn’t going away, and will become more a part of homes and family’s lives. By understanding the settings and the trends, you can make your home and children’s lives more private.

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