Amazon’s New Echo Look; A Sassy Friend or a Spying Marketer in Disguise?


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Amazon just revealed the improved home assistant Echo Look, much similar to the previous Echo but with a camera installed in it which can take your pictures, videos and even judge your outfit, like a personal stylist.

The $199 voice controlled device will listen to your commands and use artificial intelligence and online data of fashion trends and your body type from your pictures to decipher whether those skinny jeans make you look fat or not.

To give you the right fashion advice, the Echo look comes with a built-in app called StyleCheck which can make your fashion choices for you, saving you the time and the stress that you despise every morning. Based on the time of the day and the weather outside, the app will pick out the most appropriate dressing options that you can wear. You can also let the smart software know the location you want to dress for, and it will follow suit.

With its new found vision and a fashion forward application, Alexa is supposed to see you dress and undress and dress again until you find the best look of the day. You can keep her in your walk-in closet, your bedroom or even your bathroom, if you really like your privacy invaded.

If you aren’t sure whether you look on point and you don’t just want to go with a robot’s style advice you can also ask Alexa to share those picture to your friends who can then let you know what they think.

The Echo look may seem harmless and even exciting to those that mull over the gadget world awaiting one new toy after the other, but to many it raises various questions regarding security and privacy of such smart home devices.

A few months ago in one such case, a murder trial still underway, Alexa was to be the prime witness but Amazon was adamant on releasing the data regarding voice recordings and commands that were taken by the device on the night of the murder and at the murder location, which was the owner’s house. Amazon resisted in sharing the data of its client under the privacy protection of the first amendment, until the client himself agreed later.

This case raised much concern over what such devices actually record and save and that did we, the consumers, succumb to our basic right of privacy from everyone, including the government and corporations, by installing such gadgets in our homes.

The photos, audio or video taken by the device are indefinitely stored the AWS cloud and in the Echo app until the user manually deletes them. When the MotherBoard asked Amazon whether all this user data will be sold to third parties, the company did not answer the question.

In addition to that, the algorithm for Amazon’s fashion checker is mostly unknown at the moment creating apprehension regarding just how much faith can we put in Alexa’s style sense. Just like us, our creation AI also comes with biases in judgment proven only recently again by the results of an AI judged beauty contest which mainly had all white winners.

Now, not only can Amazon invariably collect huge amounts of data from its users about their style and shopping habits but it can also use Echo’s powerful machine learning capabilities to sell us clothes, accessories, and other style items that it almost knows we will buy because it will suggest them to us!

Lastly through face detection and full-length photos, as techno sociologist Zeynep Tufeci pointed out, the device may be able to tell when you are happy, sad or even pregnant, along with a lot of other data about your physical, social and sexual self, which you did not disclose.

Amazon’s algorithm can infer so many ideas about us which we do not even realize. It can sell you more make up when you are sad, exercise equipment when you feel fat and so many other things beyond our small imagination. All Echo onlookers wait to know what exactly Amazon will be doing with all this collected data.