Science & Technology

On the “benefits” of digitalization in enslavement

Swiss people who violate government directives this winter in the country’s gas shortage by overheating their homes to temperatures above 19°C degrees (66.2°F), face fines and jail terms of up to three years, DEF spokesman Markus Spurndly told Blick.

Any sensible person will ask; who and how will be tracking the citizens? Will they really go from house to house with thermometers. No, this is no longer needed. The number of smart homes in Switzerland will soon reach 1.9 million, according to forecasts, with 8 million 667 thousand people in the total population.

That is, even if two people live in a house, surveillance will immediately cover half of the population, and the rest will be bent to install sensors.

The fact that the “smart home” knocks on the owner and transmits in which room you brush your teeth, what movies you watch when you clean it is not a secret for a long time.

By the way, in Britain, where they plan to ban cooking before 20:00 and working after 21:00, 57% of homes in the country are now equipped with smart devices to control lighting, security, kettle, vacuum cleaner or other device. So the authorities will know exactly what they need about them. For the rest, it will appear within a couple of years in the order of coercion.

This is how terrible dystopias become a reality, and total human control becomes commonplace. Well, let’s not forget our digital lobbyists, who promise “lightness and freedom”, but lead to slavery.  

“Smart home devices have turned my house into a surveillance system”

Back in 2018 and as part of an experiment, journalist Kashmir Hill installed hundreds of smart devices and sensors in her home. So, an Amazon Echo speaker, a smart bed, a smart coffee maker, smart light bulbs, as well as a smart vacuum cleaner, TV, toothbrush and even children’s toys appeared in the house.

Hill immediately appreciated the benefits of the smart home system. She could watch from a distance what was happening in the house. Also, with the help of voice commands, it was possible to turn on the light, start the coffee maker and your favorite music. With the help of a toy in the nursery, Hill was able to communicate with her daughter and her nanny. The journalist did not even have to vacuum anymore – the robot vacuum cleaner did the cleaning on its own on command in the smartphone.

However, from the very beginning, Hill was aware that smart systems in the house not only simplify life, but also monitor it. At the request of the journalist, her engineer friend Surya Mattu connected all the smart systems in the house to a homemade router based on Raspberry Pi – through it, Hill could track what data the devices collect and where they transmit it. According to Mattu, through the router he got access to the same data that the Internet service provider has access to. In other words, the engineer could see what the journalist was unconsciously sharing with her operator.

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The engineer did not change the initial data encryption settings, so a lot of information was hidden. So, he could not find out what music is playing on the Amazon Echo alarm clock but he knew exactly what time Hill and her family got up, what time they turned on and off the lights, and when they watched TV. The smart toothbrush told which room it was being brushed in.

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Mattu could also find out which movies and series Netflix recommends to the family. Hulu’s streaming service wasn’t encrypted, so it was possible to pinpoint exactly what its owners were watching.

When the Hill family went on vacation, it was clear from the streams of data that no one was home. It also turned out that the devices are constantly communicating with the company’s servers, even if they are not in active use. For example, Amazon Echo sent requests to Amazon servers every two minutes. Thus, the device confirms that it is connected to the network and checks for updates.

As a result of the experiment, Mattu compared a smart home to a browser in which information is collected continuously, and the search history tells a lot about its owner.

At the same time, smart devices did not make life much easier for a journalist. According to her, the whole house was covered with wires and extension cords. To manage gadgets, Hill had to install 14 applications and create an account for each of them. Setting up a bunch of devices with the Alexa voice assistant was also not easy.

In addition, many systems recorded video and saved it in the application. Although only Hill herself had access to this data, she was embarrassed by the fact of continuous video recording.

Hill admits that despite the annoyance the experiment caused her, she won’t give up on some smart devices. So, smart TVs are in almost every American home. Smart speakers are also becoming the standard — last year, Americans bought 25 million of these devices.

However, the journalist warns that after the purchase, the device can completely change its characteristics. Continuous updates give gadgets new functionality. So, the column can become a tool for accessing social networks, and smart scales suddenly lose one of the useful functions.

“When you buy a smart device, it doesn’t just belong to you — it is also owned by the manufacturing company,” writes Hill. 

At the same time, an ordinary user is unlikely to be able to learn about the changes and transmitted data. This will require the help of a professional who will help assess the extent of surveillance. It is possible that a smart home control specialist will become one of the popular professions in the future.

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