I’ve never understood the appeal of having one of these Big Tech spy devices inside your home, but since the dawn of Amazon’s “Alexa” device, Westerners have been inviting the world’s most notorious data gathering companies into their homes apparently without regard for their own privacy.
Now, Google’s “Nest Hub Max,” billed as a “home assistant” (it basically plays music and will tell you the weather upon prompting) stands accused of using facial recognition software on its customers inside their homes.
“Google calls the feature Face Match, and it uses facial recognition technology to remember what you look like. After that, you can tap on the screen to see personalized bits of data like calendar appointments and Google Duo messages whenever it recognizes you,” according to CNET.
I think I’ll pass. Or maybe retreat to a cave in the forest and live out the rest of my days like a neanderthal. Seriously: Does anyone think Google, which has massive federal government contracts, won’t, at some point, abuse this facial recognition software? How many times do we need to be duped by Big Tech before we stop voluntarily handing over our personal information to them?
Just to be clear, the “Hub Max” learns who you are and pushes notifications to you when it recognizes you as you walk into its field of vision.
“If you opt in to the Hub Max’s ‘face match’ features, Google asks each family member to briefly scan his or her mug. Then the Hub Max’s camera stays on, ambiently looking for those faces,” one reviewer said. “When the Assistant finds one, it tailors the content on its screen. In the morning, it spotted me and proactively displayed a rundown of my day and commute – I never issued a command. You can also use it to leave reminders that pop up when the intended recipient passes by.”
Unfortunately, Google isn’t the only Big Tech company implementing this type of software:
The Nest Hub Max isn’t the first product to bring facial recognition technology — and the legal and ethical considerations that come with it — into people’s homes. Smartphones have been using the technology to let us unlock our devices and authorize purchases for years, and a growing number of smart home gadgets that use cameras are putting it to use, too, including Google’s own Nest Hello video doorbell.
Big Tech is already reportedly abusing facial recognition software, as noted.
Amazon’s “Ring,” a home security doorbell device, is apparently fitted with facial recognition software. The company has a “partnership with more than 400 law enforcement entities,” according to Bloomberg.
The voluntary use of these devices should be part of a broader discussion on facial recognition and its totalitarian implications. The Communist Chinese are already using facial recognition software to surveil their citizens, and have implemented a “social credit score” system, building something of a caste system among its citizenry.
According to a recent study, London, a modern Western city, is among the most surveilled in the world, with 68.4 surveillance cameras per 1000 inhabitants. All of the cities with more cameras per thousand inhabitants are in China:
Atlanta, Georgia, is among the top 12 most surveilled cities in the world, according to that study.
The prospect of the government watching our every move becomes more real by the day. In the meantime, we’re actively helping Big Tech develop the ability to recognize us individually with accuracy.
It’s a totalitarian, Orwellian, recipe for disaster.
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