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Unprompted: Alexa Will Find You


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Your microwave can’t be trusted.

Since Kellyanne Conway suggested it might have a microphone in it, you might want to keep your mouth shut when warming up a bowl of soup.

I have no idea of the range of the microphone or whether it communicates with other hidden microphones in my house. I’m sure my smart TV has one because that’s in the room where most people hang out and are more likely to talk. I also assumed when I hung up the phone it was hung up, but now I doubt that too. The telephone is a perfect place to hide a microphone. Duh.

Amazon’s Alexa announced to the world that anything you say in your home can be heard and acted on by a cute electronic device that comes to life when it hears a voice. Alexa get me a pizza. Got it dude, it’s on the way.

But let’s not be distracted by microphones. Television cameras are now as small as 81-gram aspirins and can be planted anywhere. We can be heard and we can also be seen when we least expect it. Just ask Erin Andrews. Privacy is a thing of the good old days, whenever they were.

One can only assume that because we’ve come this far in electronic snooping, we’ll keep going. Why stop when we have an idea that’s so popular? The demand is there. We all want to be in the CIA.

In divorce cases, suspicious spouses sometimes plant tracking devices in the cars of the wives or husbands they used to love. The device reports where the car has been but not what went on once the car got there. For that, there may be a tiny microphone or camera added to the mix. In other words, if people want to know what you’re doing badly enough, they can easily find out.

It’s entirely possible that a bug was located in Trump Tower. We may never know because the bug could have been anywhere. It might have been in Donald Trump’s hair, where nobody would find it. But we know that the electronic snoopers have become so adept at their sinister profession that we’ll never catch up with them. Keep in mind that many of us have guidance on our iPhones and a satellite tracks our every move. I’m going to Sheetz today for a couple of hot dogs, and if somebody in North Korea cares about that, they can know.

When you buy something on Amazon your purchase is noted and ads that play to your interests soon begin showing up on your device. The only people with a measure of protection from this sort of snooping are the Amish, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some of them are cheating. People may live in the woods and trap possums for a living, but they cannot hide because there are eyes in the sky that see and hear everything.

Back to a point I made earlier. We can no longer hide. While the CIA has no interest in most of us, there will always be somebody who does and it gets easier every day for them to watch us. It’s a bit scary. As I sit here writing this, I know that if anybody cares they can follow my words one-by-one. In time we’ll all have the capacity to snoop on each other. There will be no more secrets.

The only way to defeat this trend is to say and do nothing that interests anyone. Be boring, for God’s sake. Keep your mouth shut and your deeds equally mundane. Stay off the radar. Don’t cheat on your taxes, order anything that comes in a plain brown package, or mess with your neighbor’s spouse. If you want so spice up your life, do something else, like stay current on electronic eavesdropping and let someone else do the interesting stuff.

It will, in time, become a simple matter to turn off Netflix and watch somebody else do things that you might wish to do yourself. But be careful, around the corner is another electronic gizmo that will read brain waves. Look how far we’ve come in a few years. Imagine where we’re headed.

We’ll all be in bed with each other — whether we want to be or not. S

Gene Cox is an author and inventor, who retired from a 35-year career as a television anchor in Richmond. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at genecoxrva.



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