If you thought technology was already too invasive, I have some bad news for you. Amazon recently patented Alexa Tech to detect if you are physically sick or may be depressed to try and sell you medication. As someone who is chronically ill and has dealt with mental health issues, I am disgusted.
The patent essentially claims that Alexa Tech will be able to detect if you are having physical or emotional issues based on the way you talk. I have two main issues with Alexa Tech’s new capability; the first is that as someone with a rare disease which has never had a completed study, I find this to be useless, and the second is that Amazon is capitalizing on people being sick.
I have a condition called Hypocomplementemic urticarial vasculitis. This essentially means that my blood vessels are inflamed, and I am currently dealing with lung and renal issues as a result. My treatment plan is as complicated as its name. It’s offensive to my sensibilities that Amazon thinks that they will be able to suggest medication and treatment remedies that can help me. I may be tempted to throw out my computer if I get a recommendation to buy certain over-the-counter pain medication, as they make my symptoms worse. Doctors have not even figured out how to treat my condition, so what makes Alexa Tech so special?
A part of me may also be jealous of Alexa Tech’s recommendations. Yes, I wish Aleve or Ibuprofen could help relieve some of my chronic pain but I know it won’t, and I don’t want Amazon to remind me of it. I already have to grapple with how hard it is to manage my condition on a daily basis. I don’t need Alexa Tech to taunt me about this.
It seems that American corporations are as synonymous with capitalist greed as Golden Retriever puppies are to sunshine. However, the prevalence of this greed does not make it any better. The purpose of this Alex Tech is to try and convince people that they need certain goods to make them feel better. While these items may help people, Amazon’s intent is to make more money. If a company actually wanted to help people who are sick, there are other ways to go about it.
If Amazon truly wants to help people who are sick, it can look at how the company treats its employees. Many current and former Amazon workers have come forward to share stories of how the company’s labor practices, or lack of, have impacted their physical and mental health. The mistreatment of Amazon workers’ only makes Alexa Tech’s new patent more superficial.
There are also other ways that Amazon could help people who are chronically ill, dealing with mental health issues, or a random sickness. One initiative they can do is help spearhead campaigns to break the stigma and raise awareness about the challenges that people with chronic illness and mental health issues face. I can promise you that being constantly sick is not a walk in the park. What Amazon can do is to help, maybe they can deliver medication on their routes to drop off packages. If you are dealing with severe symptoms, it can be hard to even leave your house due to symptoms. And these small actions actually do make a difference.
Amazon should reconsider changing or getting rid of its latest patent for Alexa Tech. This new patent serves to make a profit for Amazon, not help people who are dealing with a physical illness or mental health issues.