WHO’S LISTENING? THE FOURTH AMENDMENT IN THE AGE OF SIRI
By Harold Cohen1
Innovation is the heartbeat of humanity, and the pace of our progress has hastened exponentially. In less than a century, the computing power that was once only available to top scientists in smoke-filled rooms trying to keep astronauts alive has been dwarfed by what most of us carry around in our pockets. Nowadays we even have computerized assistants. The introduction of voice recognition technology through platforms such as Apple’s "Siri" and Amazon’s "Alexa" has changed the way we live. This progress has led to innumerable improvements in our lives, but our advancement has come with a price.
The voice-recognition technology that powers our personal assistants is dependent upon a mixture of machine listening and artificial intelligence. Large amounts of data must be gathered, stored, and compared in order for these programs function and advance. This process, along with the rapid adoption of these devices by the public, has resulted in a massive amount of the population being listened to and recorded by at least one of these devices at all times. In order to aggregate the data gathered by these devices, users are asked to grant permission to relay their information back to companies. This constant sharing of information raises the question: What are the Fourth amendment implications of this process?