The smart speakers that know if you’re sick

Robot revolution: By 2021, there will be almost as many AI assistants on Earth as there are people.

Would you trust Alexa to diagnose you when you’re sick? Experts predict that, within 10 years, smart speakers will be able to detect illnesses by listening to our behaviour. But what about our privacy?

What’s happening

Health technology is big business. Today, smart watches monitor your heart rate, while apps measure your night’s sleep. However, this is just the beginning.

According to health experts, smart speakers like Alexa and Siri may soon be able to tell that we are getting sick before we, ourselves, know it.

Find out more

In the near future, we will all live in smart homes. Smart speakers with artificial intelligence (AI) will wake you with an alarm before telling the smart kettle to make you coffee, while the speakers play your favourite song.

As smart technology learns our habits, it will also be able to spot when something is wrong.

Hearing a cough or a sneeze, Alexa could conclude that you have the flu and order medicine straight to your door.

Some computer programmes have already been taught how to recognise Alzheimer’s disease from changes in a person’s voice or vocabulary.

Experts say that, within just 10 years, smart assistants could save the US healthcare industry £113 billion a year.

Would you trust Alexa to diagnose you when you’re sick?

Some say…

Of course. We let these smart speakers into our lives to help us, and what could be more important than health? Alexa will be able to detect illnesses before they have time to get worse, and encourage us to follow healthy lifestyles. This will allow us to live longer and healthier lives.

Others think…

Don’t be so sure. In order to gather enough information to diagnose us, these devices would be listening in to your conversations all the time. If we let companies like Google or Amazon behind closed doors, our privacy will be eroded. Hackers could steal sensitive health information, and computer glitches could endanger lives. I’ll see a doctor!

You Decide

  1. Would you like to have a smart home?

Activities

  1. Design and label your own smart home. In each room, what would your smart assistant control? How would it improve your life?

Some People Say...

“How can we be free when our every movement is tracked, and every conversation is recorded and can easily be held against us?”

Tom Green, US filmmaker

What do you think?

Word Watch

Monitor
Keep track of.
Alexa and Siri
Alexa is a voice assistant made by Amazon; Siri is made by Apple.
Artificial intelligence
When robots can appear to think like a human.
Vocabulary
The words you use.
Eroded
Worn away.

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