Amazon today announced a new subscription service called “Alexa Together,” designed for families with aging family members who are still living independently, but who may need extra support. The $19.99 per month subscription expands on Amazon’s existing product, Alexa Care Hub, an earlier investment in elder care, by taking many of Care Hub’s features and adding on new protections, like an urgent response feature and access to a professional emergency helpline.
Amazzon’s ultimate “healthcare-creep”- first through the “Halo App”, then this “Care program” and finally through a surveillance robot in the home:
Astro’s most human talent is recognising its owners. Amazon has built into the device a screen and artificial intelligence, so that it can identify up to 10 family members, follow them around playing music or videos, blink its digital eyes and carry small items from one to another. In other words, it performs like a well-behaved toddler; it will even go away on command.
Homes are becoming tiny analogues of China’s smart cities, where cameras connected to AI databases can identify lawbreakers, imposing justice by machine learning. SenseTime, a company specialising in facial recognition and what is called “predictive policing” plans to list publicly in Hong Kong this year.
These developments are part of the greater privacy narrative on the blog. While they appear disjointed, it isn’t. You need to create mental models of how Amazon (and other companies) are riding on their cloud infrastructure and pushing equipment for consumer behaviour modification – first through voice recordings, understanding and mapping consumer intent, driving their advertising networks, and eventually to the medical systems infused with machine learning to entrench themselves. As such, they are redefining systems that will ensure your dependence on them – a “subscription for life”.
2022 will intensify those efforts.