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According to an ex-Google employee, the tech giants aren’t listening to our conversations for advertisement purposes. They’ve got something worse.
We’ve all been there. After having a face-to-face conversation with someone, you pick up your phone and witness ads on social media that accurately echo the details of your chat. Why does social media now want me to seriously look into that vasectomy? I want just making conversation! The Horror.
The technology of today breeds paranoia, as many of us are equal parts tech-savvy and conspiracy-minded. We may worry that our phone is recording our conversations. It’s not true, but there’s something far creepier afoot. Quick side note, you can change the settings on your phone to reduce the number of data it collects. Which doesn’t mean it is recording it, it is listening, and it is judging you. Or is it?
Tristan Harris is a former Google design ethicist (!) who wants to free us from the grip of our electronic beauties, he was good enough to explain what is actually going on at a recent panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. While he confirms that there is no secret recording involved, he believes that the reason tech giants aren’t listening to us is because they don’t have to.
Here’s a pull-quote from his speech:
I know for a fact, the data forensics show, and the Facebook VP of advertising says, promises, that they do not listen to the microphone. How is it they’re still able to know the conversation you had?
It’s because inside of a Google server or a Facebook server is a little voodoo doll, avatar-like version of you. Like a model of you. And I don’t have to listen to your conversations because I’ve accumulated all the …clicks and likes you’ve ever made, and it makes this voodoo doll act more and more like you. All I have to do is simulate what conversation the voodoo doll is having, and I know the conversation you just had without having to listen to the microphone.
Yeah, that’s much much worse. Can we free our data avatars?