Alexa et al., What Are You Doing with My Data?

Maurice E. Stucke, Ariel Ezrachi

Abstract


Who wouldn’t want a personal butler? Technological developments have brought us closer to that dream. The rise of digital personal assistants has already changed the way we shop, interact and surf the web. Technological developments and artificial intelligence are likely to further accelerate this trend. Indeed, the leading online platforms are currently investing in this technology. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Facebook’s M, and Google Assistant can quickly provide us with information, if we so desire, and anticipate and fulfill certain needs and requests. Yet, could they also reduce our welfare? After summarizing several network effects that favor today’s powerful super-platforms, this Essay explores how the leading digital butlers, in progressively increasing their control over our outside options and choices, could harm potentially our wallets, privacy interests, and democracy.

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