Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Listening TVs

While you are watching Big Brother, Big Brother is listening to you.

That's what we discovered last week when it came to light that Samsung Smart TVs listen to private conversations and can then share whatever's said with Samsung or even third parties.

Admittedly, only if the voice activation feature is being used, but I imagine it's very worrying for owners of said TVs, reminiscent of an Orwellian nightmare described in 1984 where 'telescreens' spied on citizens in their homes.

Now, I'm not an owner of said device - as readers are probably aware I'm practically a Luddite in that I still buy real books and actual CDs rather than downloading them onto an electronic gadget.

Anyway with our broadband speed being snail's pace - fibre-optic superfast is due to arrive in September 2015 I've been told, but this deadline has shifted several times already so I'm not holding my breath - watching the TV via the internet would be a test of patience too far.  I would probably be like Elvis and hurl something at the TV when the buffer symbol repeatedly appeared - and I can't afford to keep replacing my set.

As a family we do own a tablet computer which I have been known to use - I've even tried asking it things as daughter told me it could answer questions.

When I discovered that she wasn't actually joking, I asked Google Maps to find Weybourne Beach.

It could be my Northamptonshire accent it struggled with, but this command came up as 'why were you born' and a rather unpleasant word which sounds like beach.  Charming!

But if I did own a listening TV I'm reassured that it would be thoroughly bored by my daily conversations which seem to include 'have you done your homework' and 'don't leave that schoolbag in the middle of the floor' on a regular basis - that is, of course, if it could work out what I was saying in the first place.

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