Anybody Care That The Robots Are Winning?

    January 16, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

This shift to contextual advertising caused by intelligent software has privacy advocates going squirrelly, particularly because the larger public seems relatively unconcerned. After all, says the public, it’s all about the end-user experience, not whether a robot saw my iTunes list or my Gmail inbox and made a suggestion.

Maybe the general public is more inclined to trust a machine than a person, as long as a machine doesn’t become a person. reports that Apple’s MiniStore has a produced a burr under the saddle of digital rights warhorses like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The iTunes software scans an iPodder’s music list and recommends new songs to buy.

“Hey,” says the robot, “I see you like Dave Matthews Band? Bet you’ll like Jason Mraz, too. I’ll keep this on file until another band I think you like pops up.”

Keeping that information on file is the rough patch. The EFF wants to know exactly what Apple’s doing with those files, a question the EFF claims Apple is avoiding.

“Apple should come clean,” EFF attorney Jason Shultz told “They owe it to their user base. It’s not going to kill their market. My question to them is, what are they afraid of? If this is something that is standard run of the mill, it should be transparent.”

Google has faced similar questions from privacy advocates, and answered similarly that indicates that nothing is done with the information taken, except that it’s just there.

Where is there? In the data-cellar supposedly accessible to robots only-okay, well, accessible to a few robot-like computer geeks who’ll have no need or want of the information anyway. That’s what they say, anyway.

Despite movies like iRobot and Terminator, the younger generation just doesn’t seem to have a healthy paranoia of robots, especially when they’re seen as helpful music buddies.

“Surveys that deal with Generation X and younger indicate these audiences love this stuff. They are not concerned at all with the privacy aspects of this stuff,” said Rob Enderle, founder of Enderle Group, as quoted in the article.

“They just don’t have the same sensibilities. As long as nobody uses that information against them, they don’t have any problem as long as it makes the experience better.”

If that trend continues we may see a Google Robots FAQ page, like the one spoofed here for the year 2030.