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Google Home calls up the police on Domestic quarreling couples

by Felix Omondi
google home

If you ever harbored any doubts about the potential of artificial intelligence to screw up your life, this couple’s story will help you make up your opinion once and for all.

So apparently there is this couple that lived outside Albuquerque, New Mexico; Eduardo Barros and his girlfriend. Barros was house-sitting and was accompanied by his girlfriend and their daughter.

One thing led to another, and the couple started fighting. Things got out of control, and Barros pulled a gun on his girlfriend and their daughter. Well, allegedly! Barros caught up in the heat of the moment and in anger asked his girlfriend: “Did you call the sheriffs?”

Those words triggered an action from Google Home the couples were not expecting. When Barros uttered these words; ‘Did you call the sheriffs,’ Google Home picked up ‘call the sheriffs.’

The digital assistant went ahead and dialed 911, and the operator could hear the commotion in the background and sent a dispatch SWAT unit to the address. The SWAT team got to the house and negotiated with Barros to disarm himself and then took him into custody.

The police report says the girlfriend was injured but did not need to visit a hospital, while their daughter was safe and sound. Barros was charged with three counts of felony, possession of a firearm, aggravated assault on a household member, and false imprisonment.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III said, “The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life.”

Your Security and the AI living in your home

This incident is by no means unique. Just recently Amazon’s smart home device Echo is said to have given the police critical data in a murder investigation case. In January this year, a local US TV station broadcasted news of dollhouses being ordered by Amazon Echo devices in a given area. What is even funnier is that these new orders were initially triggered by a dollhouse.

That begs the question, is the convenience of having an AI device at your beck and call worth the risks of your privacy? No doubt Google Home and Amazon Echo do listen to us more than we realize and can take up critical actions without our explicit permission.

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