Man, I Wanted an Automated Home

13 Apr 2021

Of all the things on my childhood list of ‘wouldn’t it be awesome someday,’ having an automated home was way up there. ‘Go to space’ beat it out, but not by much. Good gravy, did I love those old movies where a professor tricks out a house so that, as you drove up, T.V.s sprung our of floors, lights went on, and dinner started to cook courtesy of a robot chef named “Kitchen-Bot” or some such. I really should be on the bleeding edge of internet toasters and lights whose colors you control with your phone. I, in fact, have none of that.

Why? The “Internet of Things” is a terrible ecosystem.

There are ways to build a secure system that leaks zero data or metadata to a giant corporation, but they are not easy and you need to stay on top of updates to keep things secure. I would happily pay some company to help me with all that mess if there were horrible consequences for using/sharing my data. Not only do companies receive trivial fines for data loss, most won’t even offer the option for you to secure any data they hold against themselves. It’s not difficult to encrypt audio/video such that it can be stored but only the password holder can decrypt that information on their local computer system. Frankly, it should be the law that any system that sends audio/video from the home to the cloud should must such encryption as an option. Or, at the very least, opt out of data and metadata harvesting.

However, the United States and a fair part of the world have been experimenting with ‘deregulation’ for the last few decades. The idea of a more efficient world via clearing out government ‘red tape’ and interference is rather popular. It does mean that I won’t be allowing “Alexa” or any of her ilk into my place anytime soon. Which is mostly fine: AI isn’t quite good enough for machines to understand natural language yet. When “Make me a ham sandwich and start showing ‘Back to the Future’ when it’s ready” has an actual chance of being executed I will be much more jealous.