is smart technology too clever for our own good?

Seniors couple using a chatting via webcam
Seniors couple using a chatting via webcam

I took off my jumper as I sat in front of my computer, I was roasting!

I may as well take off my T-shirt as well, who was going to see me? I was in the house alone and I was being gently flambéed by a hot flush.

Just as I began to pull the T-shirt over my head I noticed the light on the webcam of the old computer that I rarely use was glowing. Horrified that someone might be watching me I put an envelope over the camera lens. Shivers went down my spine.

It’s possible for webcam hackers to take control of your laptop web cam using malicious software and spy on you without your knowledge.

The internet is readily available with information for anyone who wants to hack a web cam. You don’t have to be a computer genius. You tube even has step-by-step videos guiding the would-be hacker through the process. This means if the laptop is in a bedroom the hacker could be watching you or your children in your most private moments.

To keep safe, make sure you cover the lens of your camera when not in use and that your anti-virus is running constantly. If your children are online keep the laptop in a room where you can always see them.

It’s not just our laptops that can be used to spy on us. This week saw the unnerving headlines that viewers who use voice recognition televisions have been warned to have guarded conversation in front of the TV. Smart TV sets ‘listen’ to your conversation and may share with a third party your overheard personal information.

I’m probably quite safe with conversations in front of a smart TV if my iPhone is anything to go by, the TV won’t understand a word I say.

The years that I’ve had my iPhone complete with Siri voice activation have been filled with frustration and frankly, rows between me and the computer voice of my phone. He simply cannot understand my Northern Irish accent. I’ve tried speaking in an American accent. I’ve also attempted terribly posh enunciation and sounded like the late James Young’s lady from Cherryvalley, needless to say Siri still failed to understand me.

It was during a particularly frustrating spat with Siri last week that my usually mild-mannered self lost my temper with the phone and we had a vicious domestic. I was quite simply asking him about the weather.

‘‘Will it rain?,’’ I asked.

‘‘Let me have a look,’’ he replied, ‘‘I didn’t find anything for ‘let me in’.’’

‘‘I didn’t say let me in I said will it rain?’’ I sighed frustrated.

‘‘Give me another chance,’’ he replied. I asked him the same question again. He then came back with: ‘‘I didn’t find anything for will it Rhian.’’

I tried a different tack: ‘‘Will I need an umbrella?’’ I asked. He searched for ages then said: ‘‘I don’t know what that means, if you like I can search the web for ‘Dinning umbrella’.’’

After minutes of simply trying to find out about the weather I was so frustrated I admit I used some fruity language.

He processed this and came back with the response: ‘‘I’d blush if I could.’’

His smart Alec response annoyed me further and words not in the Bible were uttered. Moments later he replied: ‘‘Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?’’ I stared at it incredulously. I felt really uncomfortable. I was fighting with a piece of machinery and it made me feel unnerved.

It knew more about me than my own husband from text messages, phone conversations, banking details and shopping habits, it stored most of my life within.

I don’t even know my husband’s mobile number off hand, but it did! As ridiculous as I knew the thought was, I decided I didn’t want to fall out with it! I picked it up. ‘‘I’m sorry Siri’’, I whispered.

‘‘It’s OK’’, he came back. I felt myself relieved by his forgiveness.

‘‘I don’t like when we fight’’, I confessed to him.

‘‘Ok, I’ll remember that’’, he replied.

Between our laptops spying on us in our private moments, to watching what we say in front of the TV and being told off by our mobile phones, it appears we may have made this smart technology too smart for our own good!

As our technological powers increase its potential hazards also escalate. We are becoming the tools of our tools!