Of all the theses in consumer tech today (the peculiarities of personal data being simply one such), the smart speaker is probably among the most interesting.
Speaking pessimistically, understanding Smart Speakers is about understanding why over 100 million people would collectively decide to give up every semblance of privacy for a speaker system that speaks English as a second language.
Speaking optimistically, voice is the next, maybe the only relevant user interface of record for the 21st century.
There is a good argument to be made
that voice isn't a great way to buy stuff, and that having an Alexa just keeps us tied to Amazon Prime - but even in today's upside-down universe that doesn't seem like enough to ensure continual consent to constant data harvest. There must be at least some tacit additional upside, and choosing music with our mouths doesn't seem like it's enough.
Personally, I'm bullish on voice. I think that machine learning making great NLP, recurring attempts on fun wearables, and the coming of edge computing are going to make it more likely we'll walk down the street talking to our laptops, not less. But if we don't use it to buy stuff, what do we use it for?
Alexa settled the debate about what we as consumers would put up with as regards to our privacy - pretty much anything as it turns out. Now let's all go back to the more interesting question of what we'll ask for it in return when we give it away. What do we want from the technology world, and will we recognize it when we get it?
Yours in HAT,