Thursday, July 27, 2017

Because business is gross.

So I'm not a business person or anything, in fact I think business is gross and I hate it, but I often have strong opinions about business things. Take this news story about the company that makes Roomba-you know, those robot vacuum cleaners? Turns out they're planning to use their robots to spy on you in order to get you to buy more stuff because, as I mentioned before, business is gross.
"It's true, we are the worst."
-Business people
The important thing is that you
tried...or at least thought about it.
In order for these things to scurry around your house doing the all the vacuuming you're too good to do yourself, they collect information about their surroundings. That way they can avoid repeatedly running into obstacles like furniture and unused exercise equipment that seemed like a good idea when you bought it but you never got in to it but-hey, life happens ok? Don't beat yourself up. The important thing is that a Roomba will know way more about you than a regular vacuum.

Makes sense, right? Sure, until you remember that old adage (that I made up a couple paragraphs ago) about business being gross. Sensing an opportunity to take advantage of its customers who just wanted to avoid menial tasks, iRobot announced plans to sell the information they have about you and your home to marketers.
It's the old Trojan Horse maneuver except instead of opening
the doors to an invading Greek army, they're telling Ikea that you
just might be open to buying a Söderhamn 4-seat sectional sofa.  
"Laserbeak, Ravage, Roomba,
eject. Operation: market research."
I'm not a hundred percent clear on this part, but from the story it sounds like iRobot isn't going to start selling new, spy-equipped Roomas but instead will just flip on some kind of pre-existing software and just start using the one that's already in your house as some kind of creepy corporate data miner. Yup, you may already have a tiny surveillance robot in your home collecting information about things already you have in your home, things you might like to buy and things you like to do when nobody except your trusty robot vacuum cleaner is around.

Now you'd think that using robots in this way would violate Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics, and you'd be right. According to the First Law a robot may not harm a human being and helping retailers sell you more shit you don't need is certainly harmful so we are left with the chilling possibility that iRobot's robots don't even see us as human beings, but instead as nothing more than exploitable resources from whom to extract revenue...which now that I think about is is exactly what business is for. See? Gross.
"Greetings human consumers, our records indicate you have recently
been experiencing reduced sexual activity. I will now guide you to our
wide selection of marital aides and lubricants. Resistance is futile."

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