In the New York Times Magazine, Jacob Silverman, author of the insightful Terms of Service: Social Media and the Cost of Constant Connection, writes about the proliferation of so-called smart devices, a trend that is now teetering on the edge of self-parody.
His take is spot on:
The intelligence given to these devices really serves twin purposes: information collection and control. Smart devices are constantly collecting information, tracking user habits, trying to anticipate and shape their owners’ behaviors and reporting back to the corporate mother ship. Data is our era’s most promising extractive resource, and tech companies have found that connecting more people and devices, collecting information on how they
interact with one another and then using that information to sell advertising can be enormously profitable....
But the true ingenuity of a “smart” device is the way it upends traditional models of ownership. We don’t really buy and own network- connected household goods; in essence, we rent and operate these devices on terms set by the company. Because they run on proprietary software, and because they are connected to the internet, their corporate creators can always reach across cyberspace and meddle with them.