Saturday, December 22, 2018

Unwanted Help

I received an email from Google informing me that Google Assistant had been downloaded to my smartphone. I had not requested this facility. Not only that, I had set my preferences on Google Play to download nothing unless I requested it.  I looked at the phone and there was a pop-up screen asking for permission to access all the data on my phone and to listen in at all times to anything I said. The alternative was not that I could disable or uninstall it . Oh no, the alternative was that it would go on running anyway but would not be "so helpful".  Realising it was already listening to my under the breath comments, I said "Go away" and, rather obligingly I thought, it put up a message saying "Popping off". I then looked, in vain, for any way to permanently disable the app. I suspect it is running in background whether I want it to or not and that thought is irritating.

You may say that I should be glad of having something that is ready to help. But get a load of this; it put up some suggestions as to how I could use it. The first was "Play Bruno Mars on Spotify". I don't use Spotify, my tastes in music do not include Mr Mars and in any case I have never played music on my phone. I use my little Sansa Clip when out and about, and hi-fi (or headphones when on my pc) when at home.  I think there was something about booking flights as well (yeah, right) and also telling me all about my busy (!) schedule.

Google should know all about me and appears to have learned nothing in all of the years that the two of us have been acquainted.  It's amazing, this lack of artificial intelligence.

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