Amazon Echo: Super Cool or Super Creepy? You Make The Call!


Amazon has introduced a new type of ‘smart device’ – the Echo – that’s a reimagining of the home stereo as a always-connected, voice activated speaker.

It’s got some impressive features – combining Siri-style voice recognition, with search, music and news service. You can tell it to play some music by Boards of Canada, tell it to wake you up at 7am or ask what the weather is going to be like, and Echo will handle it.

It’s not much of a stretch to imagine an App Store for a device like this, where you could download new types of music applications for it. Brian Eno has already done this on iOS, turning his classic Music For Airports album into a generative music application. An audio ‘smart device’ could be a perfect platform for generative music making.

But, while the Amazon Echo has some super cool aspects, it’s also a little creepy – because it’s always on and listening to you. Even in your bedroom.

And, as Amazon says – it’s ‘Connected to the cloud, so it’s always getting smarter.” 

Here’s the official video intro:

What do you think – super cool or super creepy? You make the call!

36 thoughts on “Amazon Echo: Super Cool or Super Creepy? You Make The Call!

  1. Abso-F$#@ING-lutely not. NO one really NEEDS that level of convenience, especially when its another giant corporation pretending to be helpful or have YOUR well-being in mind in any way. Its an NSA suppository. Push the buttons yourself, you lazy derp. 😛 AT&T was just massively fined for throttling data on their “limitless data” smartphone plan after a few gigabytes. Don’t be overly paranoid, but also don’t pretend that something is good just because a sociopath system claims its so. Learn your history and never discount The Golden Fish Hook in the creamy center.

    1. Not sure Big Bro needs this. What does it capture that your phone doesn’t?
      (but they’ll gladly take it if it takes off)

      Looks more like one of the recurring squeezes in the electronics industry when everybody who can have already spent $500 and have most of what they need, but Christmas is coming up and they really *need* everybody to spend another $500 within next year.

      This brings us stuff like quadraphony, SuperCD, 3D tv screens, phone hardware-subscription (you *will* change it every other year), etc.

  2. I like the idea of a mass-market sound device that can software.

    I do ambient music, and a lot of it is based on assigning probability to musical events, so you can create endless variety from a limited collection of sounds. It would be cool to create compositions that would run on a device like this, especially if the could respond to time of day, your activity level, your requests, etc.

    But there are obvious creep factor issues with this particular device.

    I wish Apple would get their act together on Apple TV and open that to developers, because it seems like it could be a great platform for creating ambient audio &visual apps. But it seems like all the big companies are focused on TV, rather than creating a platform making apps for the living room or for your home.

  3. My vote is for super-creepy. Mainly because Amazon works as contractor for the FBI developing database systems, which for me shows where their loyalty lies: for the guys who have big budgets rather than the small guy buying the odd tablet or book online. I deleted my Amazon account when I learned a little more about them. I can always get the same products through other channels if I need to.

  4. This is totally ridiculous. So instead of security agencies and law enforcement planting bugs in peoples houses for surveillance, now customers actually pay to get potentially get spied on by a big corporation?
    Let’s face it, everything is hackable and the device could include backdoors for NSA, FBI and others.
    I’m not saying we all should become totally paranoid, but we shouldn’t buy every crap, just because it has a super slick and happy video-ad.

  5. They had me until they showed Echo listening to the couple sleeping. What if you’re not sleeping, you’re doing the wild thing? You see that couple in bed, and it reveals the underlying creepiness of this thing.

    I’m not a luddite and I like the idea of smart devices – but not stupid devices that listen to me and my wife in the bedroom.

  6. I love it, I’m lazy as a motherfker and I don’t give a shit who knows what about me, it could only be better if it could read my thoughts so I didn’t have to speak

  7. And just think about the possibilities that open up if Amazon combines this with another technology they are experimenting with…
    “Alexa, why has that Amazon drone been hovering outside our house for the past hour?”

  8. I “expressed my interest” in ordering one – haven’t recieved a confirmation yet, though. I’m really not big on voice command stuff, but my hope is that they’ll make some kind of toolkit available and allow people to hack it. I’D have to see what kind of function this hypothetical toolkit offered, but it might be interesting.

  9. horrible nightmare , A complete alienation !
    amazon echo + googles goggles + fecebook .. is the future ?
    transhumanism is a despair , technic cant be the answer for all

  10. Huh… you’re probably already sat in front of a variation on George Orwell’s Telescreen!!!

    See that little camera at the top of your laptop screen?

    This is pretty tame in comparison 🙂

    1. The first thing I do when I get a new computer is to tape a picture of my butt over the camera lens. Its the modern world, so pretty much everything is 2 Girls, 1 Cup and 20,000 NSA operatives snickering over anything you do, not to mention the endless personal attacks that pepper every outlet, including this one. My g/f says humanity is in is adolescence. I say we’re still sh*t-pinwheel toddlers. Just look at the Roland JP-80-hate we saw before it had even been RELEASED.

      What Edward Snowden did was a colossal mix of bravery and self-destruction, yet much-needed. I’m amazed he hasn’t been assassinated already. If you feel up to it, this will give you a fair grounding on the core issue: the damaging lack of regard for others. It won’t help much with politicians or bosses who plague you, but at least you’ll know the mechanism. Watch a little C-SPAN, a little FOX “News,” an episode of “Superjail” and then tell me I’m wrong. :O

      1. There is the point that 99.999999% of us are not worth spying on. Look at your life. Imagine being tasked with watching someone like you closely, listening to your telephone calls, reading your email, 24/7. How much before your lowly G6 salary no longer suffices to stave off the urge to eat a bullet? I almost feel sorry for the bastards at the NSA, if they have to stare at us for a paycheck, just to molly coddle a bunch of paranoid politicians whose worst secret is a need to wear a diaper and be spanked for pooping themselves. Yes, some of our elected officials are like that, I don’t doubt. But, I don’t think this cheesy music player has anything to do with any conspiracy theory. No one is going to buy it so it won’t become ubiquitous. Like smart phones. That tell the government where you are to the nearest meter and can be turned on to listen to everything going on around you at the flick of a switch without you knowing it. I would worry about the smart phones if I were you.

  11. It’s the future like it or not. Maybe not the “echo” but I can see having something like this hidden from plain site that can be accessed over the whole house. This is for those comfortable, straight and narrow folks with no worries.

  12. Personally, As is, there is no way I’d have this. However, if this was open-source, with full openness of the OS, data handling etc. I’d be a lot more tempted. Reason being, is that, at the moment, only amazon really knows what data it’s collecting, and how it’s all being handled and collected. If this was a fully open-source project, it’d be a lot harder to hide what was going on, as the full code for the OS etc. would be available for people to pick over and find any nasties. I’d have a lot more trust in something like that.

  13. My father cannot even operate a cellphone, so if this device could let him access a form of internet, and my amazon prime music streaming, I am all for it.

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