The future of Amazon Echo and Google Home looks bleak

Just how intrusive will smart speakers become? A haunting new video tries to imagine their role in our future lives. It isn't pretty.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
It seems so helpful at first. (Screenshot by ZDNet)

We tend to follow a well-worn path with new technology.

First, we're enchanted by it. Then, we're owned by it. Only after an appreciable while do we stop and think -- or scream: "What the hell am I doing?!"

When it comes to smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home, we're probably still in the first phase.

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We're enchanted by how they can perform simple tasks like turning the lights off or failing to admit they're a robot when they're booking a restaurant.

We might fear they're snooping a little, but isn't every device?

Filmmakers John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke, otherwise known as Ghost and Cow, thought they'd look a little further down the robot relationship road.

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Once we've let one of these devices into our everyday lives, what might they do? How might they be? And how advanced a role might they play in our existence?

In their short film, structured as a series of ads -- and actually a music video for the Brooklyn based band disturbingly called Big Data -- a family is so happy that L1ZY has come into their lives.

From the very first moment, she seems to know so much about everyone.

It's flattering to be known, without even having to explain oneself. She knows mom's favorite song. She knows the kids' schedule. The parents' too.

And then mom utters the fateful words to her husband: "Are you sure we want this thing in our lives?"

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L1ZY starts syncing with every device in the house. Her syncing begins to incite a sinking feeling in members of the family.

She starts telling dad what he's allowed to eat. After all, she's accessed his medical records and biometric data. She knows that Alison, the daughter, is having trouble with a classmate, so she offers a little robotic parental advice.

Mom continues to worry. L1ZY orders a second L1ZY.

Slowly, but very surely L1ZY begins to take over the family. Not only does she become a parent, but she takes over the role of psychologist, career advisor, and doctor. Oh, and hitwoman.

Soon, the family isn't quite the same. Their personal worlds become distorted. Their sense of perspective is tossed upon a pyre.

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Soon, they're entirely under the command of the myriad L1ZY's in their house.

Of course, I wouldn't dream of suggesting this is an accurate portent of the future. I also wouldn't dream of suggesting that it isn't.

As we abdicate more of our basic responsibilities to machines and as we release more and more information to the wilds of remote servers, what's to stop our smart speakers becoming not our masters, but our master manipulators?

After all, they'll know more than we do. And we've always been told that knowledge is power.

We've also been told that power corrupts, so please watch the video all the way to the end.

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