Can ‘smart’ technologies get too smart, too fast

Smart phones. Smart cars. Smart TVs. Smart refrigerators.

It seems like technology is making everything around us smarter. Well, except us, if American student academic standings relative to the world are any sign.

For many, the early days of this revolution, featuring virtual computers still marketed as “phones,” was readily embraced by American consumers. Even skeptics had to admit it was a huge step in technology and there were obvious advantages when it came to safety. Still even the early, less sophisticated ability to track smart phones alternated between handy and slightly creepy depending on whom one asked.

Home Artificial Intelligence devices like Amazon’s Alexa and its competitors are the latest smart gadgets and their popularity is soaring. They have incredible capacity to “smarten up” one’s home as well as be entertaining and handy. They have also been the source of some controversy, prompting many to wonder just how much they are recording – even watching. At least one machine has ended up being an important alleged source of information in a criminal case. Other reports of “strange behavior” have popped up. Strange behavior?

Just a handful of years ago, the idea that a car could park itself made it “smart.” Now, self-driving cars are on the near horizon.

What’s the advantage of smart refrigerator? A smart toaster?

Maybe these technologies will end up harmless tools. Maybe there needs to be regulation about just how much personal information one’s devices can collect from you.

Today, governments at all levels are embracing devices such as Alexa as a means of making information about services more readily available to the public.

The latter point maybe isn’t yet quite so smart. Time will tell.