The new Amazon Key service is — to put it bluntly — insidious. It allows nonstop corporate surveillance — consensual espionage — to permeate throughout a person’s home. Amazon Key, is a service which allows direct access for delivery persons into your home through the purchase of a security camera and digital lock for your door. However, it is not entirely unique in its perverse breaching of people’s personal lives. Its immediate acceptance is symptomatic of our culture’s infatuation and enchantment with technology. We are obsessed with speed and sleek aesthetics. We are motivated by something far more potent than a mere desire for luxury. Our culture is consumed by its insatiable thirst for ever-increasing levels of convenience, and we are willing to sacrifice nearly anything to continue attaining them.
This uncontrollable draw towards technology, and an overwhelming desire to perpetually accelerate technological progress, should be concerning. It isn’t just something we use to easily manipulate the world around us. Our over-reliance leads towards a state of dependency which — when placed within the context of a world revolving around the collection and usage of data and information — is incredibly dangerous. We place our entire lives on display, which isn’t only a danger to those who have done something wrong — it affects all of us.
The more we rely upon technology, the more precarious a position we place ourselves in. Philosopher Martin Heidegger expressed this fear in his work, “The Question Concerning Technology:” “The will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control.”
This raises an important question: Why are we seemingly okay with losing control over the technology in our everyday lives?
Because it is far more convenient to check a box and connect yet another app or account through your Facebook profile. We so deeply infuse technology into our lives that, all in the name of convenience, we make cyborgs out of our own lives. Due to how fundamentally ingrained consumerism is to the human experience, we relinquish this control freely. Consumption is king. As such, a conflict arises when it comes to security.
In the modern era, people tend to impose a greater sense of gravity upon the security of their products and possessions than on individuals themselves. In an attempt to protect objects, we willingly cast off what little privacy we still possess. When we release our voice into the proverbial void — or Alexa — we act as if there is no one on the other end; but there is always a recipient. Our voices never truly go unheard. Every word you speak within “earshot” of a smart device is monitored, providing corporations with more data than they even need to further manipulate your shopping patterns.
Now, with Amazon Key, the privacy breach is absolutely suffocating. Not only are Amazon delivery persons allowed access to your home, but the night vision security camera installed allows nonstop data accumulation for Amazon. To make matters worse, it comes with two-way audio installed. This absolute relinquishing of privacy is presented behind the mask of increased security for the consumer. Its purpose is unrestricted access to them, since data on people’s habits is why tech companies are as profitable as they are. Furthermore, since the lock is a smart lock, it makes you more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Americans need to take a closer look when it comes to our relationship with technology. Being critical is vital. Instead of only considering the convenience provided by a product, we should examine the product’s purpose on the part of the people making it, and the way it impacts our lives. In no way am I suggesting that people should stop using technology. Technology can be immensely beneficial — but it still has the potential to do real harm through the violation of privacy and increased vulnerability to cyberattacks.
Lucas is a PPE major in University of Washington Tacoma, and he is graduating with a Bachelor’s in philosophy. His primary interests are philosophy, politics, and law. He is currently working as a teacher at a secondary school while preparing to attend law school immediately following graduation.