We live in an era where technology is growing at an explosive rate, and people are increasingly becoming concerned that the very concept of privacy is being destroyed by technological wonders.
One of the latest trends in the tech world are devices like Amazon’s Echo, which has a voice assistant named “Alexa” answer your questions, and sports “smart speakers” that constantly listen for your every command and then do things like play music, tell you the weather or search for something on the internet.
Authorities in New Mexico believe that a woman is alive today because of her smart speaker. According to CBS News, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s department believes that a woman’s Alexa was somehow able to call 911 while its owner was being viciously attacked by her boyfriend, Eduardo Barros, 28.
The only problem with this situation is that authorities aren’t 100 percent certain how Alexa called 911.
Theoretically, Alexa isn’t able to make calls to 911 — at least that’s what we’re being told — but somehow authorities believe this device was able to call 911. CBS reported that the woman’s voice could be heard yelling “Alexa, call 911” after the call was placed.
The police responded to the 911 call and were able to save the woman, and her child, after a few hours of hostage negotiation.
Fox News reported that Amazon has insisted that it isn’t possible that Alexa made the call. Alexa can only make calls if a person syncs their contacts to the Alexa app.
There are some other discrepancies with this entire situation. As CNET reported, it is puzzling that the woman would be screaming “Alexa, call 911” if the 911 call was already occurring.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office can’t explain it either. But it knows what it recorded.
“All we can confirm is that 911 was called, we have the recording, the victim stated that’s what happened,” public information officer Felicia Romero said, according to CNET. “We don’t know what device it came from. I don’t know how it did it.”
It is possible that the woman called 911 herself from her phone but didn’t think the call went through when it actually did, so she started screaming at Alexa as a last attempt to save herself.
However it all happened, it underscores the well-known fact that the microphones in Alexa and other “smart” devices are always listening, and this bizarre incident has served as a reminder to the public that there is still a lot about these smart speakers that needs to be figured out.
Having Alexa, or any other device, call 911 just by screaming it out could be a useful feature, but we also have to consider the privacy costs that come with a machine listening to our every word.
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