The House That Spied on Me

Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu, at the Verge, conducted an experiment in smart home living. Kashmir tricked out her house in smart home devices, from coffee makers to beds, and Surya monitored the data being sent from the house through the internet to see what could be tracked.

Their article does a good job of bringing her experience to life; through observations and data: The House That Spied on Me.

I like to imagine that I’m going to keep my house simple and dumb for as long as possible. I don’t like creating that much data about what we do. But there will come a point where connection is a necessity for basic living. Insurance companies will expect to know about your habits. The government needs to know about your power consumption. Communicating with anyone requires a device that knows where you are.

I don’t mean to paint myself as paranoid or a luddite, but we are moving so quickly and so clumsily into this frustrating new world that it feels like no one is considering the implications of it all.

Friends and family are subjected to surveillance:

Getting a smart home means that everyone who lives or comes inside it is part of your personal panopticon.

Your behaviour changes as you’re constantly aware of being observed:

All of the anxiety you currently feel about being tracked online is going to move into your living room.

And for all of the tasks that are automated, there comes a new layer of tasks involved with maintaining the automators:

I thought the house would take care of me but instead, everything in it now had the power to ask me to do things.

At some point, the business world, or the government, or someone needs to start thinking about whether or not this is good for people. Or at least, whether or not it’s possible for people who use this stuff to even comprehend what they are trading in return for a coffee maker that can connect to Alexa.