Quick review: Amazon Echo
Six months ago we kind of bashed the whole concept of Amazon Echo.
But what we didn’t tell you is that we later got an offer to buy it ahead of time for 50% off. We took the bait, and received it last weekend. Gulp.
Amazon Echo – useful gadget? Or time-waster?
By now, most of you know the concept. For those that don’t – see the promo video below.
We played around with it over the past weekend. And here are our initial observations.
- It’s a pretty decent bluetooth speaker. Although it needs electricity, it’s not too table-hogging in size.
- The Echo (Prime) music was neat. Found most of the songs we challenged it with. Can also stream audio from your phone.
- It was “helpful” with things like common measurements. But I couldn’t get it to quote me the current cost of gold for some reason.
- Apparently you can shout items for your to-do lists or shopping lists, and it will link back to the app on your phone. That might come in handy if used diligently.
- You can also tap into Wikipedia entries – but that whole thing is questionable to begin with.
Overall, it’s an interesting gadget – but I’d hardly call it “revolutionary.” In fact, I already mentioned I can see it potentially harming society with more reliance on the robots as well as worrisome privacy concerns.
I think I’m going to return it (or sell it if anyone wants to give me $150 for a “hardly used” Amazon Echo.)
Too good to be true? (Amazon Echo)
I’m sure many of you have heard about this new “revolutionary” product called Amazon Echo. (To put things into perspective – a blender was once considered “revolutionary.”)
Anyway, this “speaker tube” is sort of like a combination of Apple’s Siri (and the movie HER) with the exception of that it’s technically always “listening” (or waiting) for a certain “key word” to be spoken to “activate it.” So…. check this promotional video about it.
Do you trust what they say?
Sure – the optimistic and positive person would trust what Amazon says. “Sure, it won’t listen to me without my permission! No way!”
But with SEVEN omni-directional high-sensitivity microphones, connected to a “cloud,” how can you PROVE that it’s not listening? How do you know the security of it all won’t be compromised in the future?
This is exactly the reason why (despite my interest in it), I’ll never put one of these in my house.
- You trust Target to handle your credit card transactions when you buy some useless shit: (They fail, and your personal data is compromised).
- You trust Home Depot to handle your credit card transactions when you buy some relatively useful shit: (They fail and your personal data is compromised).
- You trust Facebook to not manipulate you (yet you are 100% manipulated – whether you acknowledge it or not)
The list could go on forever. But the point is – it does NOT matter what they “promise,” because you have ZERO guarantee that things will be as they seem. You have ZERO contracted future compensation if your unalienable rights were violated. You “sign away” all of your rights.
But think about this again – they have SEVEN high tech microphones to YOUR home. They “claim” that they’re not listening. But how will you ever be sure? Regardless of the the ritual procedure where they “claim” they will not infringe on your privacy without your “permission,” how can you be 100% certain?
If some fruity tube is connected to the internet 100% of the time, with 100% access to seven microphones – there is no guarantee that things can go wrong. Whether it’s a dishonest company, an unknown hacker – or some other “by design” breach, why would you do this?
I just hope that some enterprising folks out there test this thing to the limit – up to and including making specific threats against specific people (with no intention to hurt anyone) – to see if some g-men show up at their door. One, it’d be good to test the product in that way – but also to see how there might be holes in that theory.
Security and privacy reasons aside – Let’s say the thing actually works – and works well. The next thing that will happen with this type of “external brain” as I call it – is that it will create a dependency, and further dumb-down those already reliant on technology. People will be unable to handle simple tasks or learn the old-fashioned way.
Bottom line? Humans are better than robots, and experience is better than digital assistance.