Why Are We Okay With Amazon Key?
I don’t know which is more shocking- the fact that Amazon has the gall to introduce a “service” that unlocks your home for strangers while an ever-present camera watches your door- and everyone who enters or exits- or the fact that Americans seem to be completely comfortable with this.
Sadly, the time seems long past for principled opposition to technology-enabled privacy breaches. This isn’t because of convenience or a lack of reflection. It’s because Amazon and other big tech companies have captivated consumers with something more than the products they offer.
For those who haven’t heard, the Amazon Key is a new delivery service that promises greater convenience by allowing “couriers” to unlock the consumer’s front door and place the package inside the home, while an indoor camera records the interaction for “security” purposes. But since the 2014 emergence of the Echo and other devices, Amazon has already obtained total virtual access to your home through audio and video recordings. At this point, is it really such a big leap for them to allow their employees to step through your front door?
Most articles I’ve read about the online retail giant’s latest foray into the intrusive and Orwellian “smart home” market have had only a slight tinge of unease that was quickly washed over with the awe and reverence so often lavished upon our new technological Gods.
This latest intrusion arrives, brazenly and with anticipation of widespread acceptance, at the heels of a plethora of similar devices. The Amazon Look, a camera that records you changing clothes in your closet, the Alexa Alarm Clock, a device that watches as you sleep and engage in other “bed” activities, and various other Alexa devices that record every word spoken and every sound made in your home, were all introduced with minimal controversy and maximal fanfare.
In our bleak, atheistic age, where else are we to turn for satisfaction of the natural human drive for wonder? While we once marveled at religious stories of miracles and naked-eye observations of natural phenomena, now we stand in stupefying awe at the “innovations” of giant tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.
To say that Amazon is uniquely nefarious would be a mistake. It would also be a mistake to place the blame on the tech industry as a whole. After all, they wouldn’t be making devices that surveil the most intimate aspects of our personal lives if no one was interested in buying them.
The blame is to be placed squarely on consumers, and on the social and spiritual emptiness that leads them to make such naïve decisions. One must wonder whether Americans would really welcome an all-seeing and all-hearing device into their home if they already enjoyed the security of believing in an omniscient God. One must wonder whether Americans would be so reliant on advice and knowledge from Alexa, Cortana, and Siri if they knew they could talk to their local Clergyperson or a family member about their concerns.
In a world marked by a dearth of spiritual and community substance, human beings turn to the ever-listening ear of “smart” devices to guide them through life. Until we understand the nature of our spiritual and social needs and actually address them in an appropriate and fulfilling way, Amazon and other tech companies will continue to run roughshod over our personal liberties.