Can You Trust Siri Or Alexa When It Comes To Your Hip Pocket?

Millions have fallen for the the various genies in a smart speaker -- and the voice revolution is still underway. As this technology sweeps many off their feet, the cost to hip pockets and privacy is yet to unfold.

If you own an Amazon Echo, Google Assist -- or if you're planning to buy one as a Christmas gift -- experts have warned consumers to be aware of the privacy and financial costs.

By 2021, there will be almost as many personal-assistant bots on the planet as people.

Figures from the U.S. show that one in five households also shop via their voice assist devices.

"We have comparable uptake of these devices as the U.S but we are not using them to shop as much,"  Dr Rob Nicholls, senior lecturer in business law at the UNSW Business School said.

While personal digital assistants might be helpful there's a good chance its main priority is to help itself.

"People should know that that if you try and buy something through Alexa, it will point you to Amazon products and for Siri it's likely to be via Apple.

Similarly why Siri’s might be a pretty good DJ, it comes with a condition to Apple Music.

"I think Australians are a bit more wary and want to get a better deal than that," Nicholls said.

Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant want to adjust the thermostat, fill your picture frame or even microwave your popcorn.

Each artificial intelligence assistant has its own ways of running a home. You’re choosing which tribe is yours -- and it means spending within one technology family.

"If you want the best deals you still need to use your laptop of phones to shop. If you want to do something boring quickly then something like Alexa becomes really handy like ordering the same brand of cat food," Nicholls said.

Privacy And The Ears In The Room

Your home digital assistant is also listening, and storing information.

Earlier this year, a U.S couple were surprised to learn that Amazon's Alexa recorded a conversation in their home and sent it to a random person from their contact list.

READ MORE: Amazon Echo Recorded A Family Conversation And Sent It To A Random Person

Experts say of the biggest problems consumers have is that they don't know what the company is collecting on them and how this will be used in the medium to long-term.

"Consumers can have a relationship with a bank for example for 30 years, and for the most part you know what both parties bring to the table and you know what your rights and obligations are," Associate Professor Mark Gregory from the School of Engineering Cluster at RMIT said.

Gregory said the technology is convenient and enticing but it comes at a price.

"The cost at the moment is that legislation and regulation have not kept up witch technology. As we know the government is preoccupied with national security and encryption"

While the future is undoubtedly about being connection and accessing goods faster, he said privacy for consumers has not been adequately dealt with in a proactive way.

"The amount of grey areas is just alarming," he said.

Privacy concerns have not stopped the march of these devices into our homes, but regulators need to do more Gregory said.

"We only really see legislation as a reactive process when something goes really wrong and there is a big data breach," he said.

Featured image: Getty Images

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au