Helaine was in the studio this afternoon. We were talking about Tracy Morgan’s first TV appearance since his accident. I mentioned “Jimmy Mac,” Morgan’s friend who lost his life in the accident. All of a sudden from across the room I heard a beep. It was my cellphone which had looked up the phrase, “Jimmy Mac.”
I didn’t ask it to do that.
I didn’t say Google’s magic phrase (OK Google).
It just did it even though the phone was locked.
Any device that answers to unexpected sounds has to listen all-the-time. It’s a scary thought. My cellphone is quietly eavesdropping. Even when it’s not being used it still parses every sound it hears. It has to.
Think about that a second. It knows when you are sleeping. It knows when you’re awake. I have no doubt it also knows when you’ve been bad or good.
We’ve waded into a surveillance society right up to our eyeballs. Any business with an electronic connection to you feels entitled to as much data as they can scoop up.
In some ways it’s good. Targeted advertising benefits me as well as the advertiser.
In other ways it’s awful. If you’re miscategorized by your online choices that info can trickle into every aspect of your life. Unlike a bad credit report, you’re not protected from Internet mistakes.
The government has been doing similar things. And they can put you in prison!