The Domestication of Voice Activated -Technology & EavesMining: Surveillance, Privacy and Gender Relations at Home
Stephen James Neville
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This thesis develops a case study analysis of the Amazon Echo, the first-ever voice-activated smart speaker. The domestication of the devices feminine conversational agent, Alexa, and the integration of its microphone and digital sensor technology in home environments represents a moment of radical change in the domestic sphere. This development is interpreted according to two primary force relations: historical gender patterns of domestic servitude and eavesmining (eavesdropping + datamining) processes of knowledge extraction and analysis. The thesis is framed around three pillars of study that together demonstrate: how routinization with voice-activated technology affects acoustic space and ones experiences of home; how online warm experts initiate a dialogue about the domestication of technology that disregards and ignores Amazons corporate privacy framework; and finally, how the technologys conditions of use silently result in the deployment of ever-intensifying surveillance mechanisms in home environments. Eavesmining processes are beginning to construct a new world of media and surveillance where every spoken word can potentially be heard and recorded, and speaking is inseparable from identification.