Quick 'n Nerdy

O.K. Google, what is the Whopper burger?

This Wednesday, Burger King released a new television ad that purposely triggers Google’s latest Smart-Home-Hub “Home” by asking it for a definition of the Whopper Burger through television.

“Home” is a Smart-Home Central like Amazon’s “Alexa” and can be controlled with natural speech but needs to be invoked by a special key-phrase – “O.K. Google” (“Alexa” for Amazon’s Hub). Burger King used this in its ad to basically off-load some of its marketing- and advertising-efforts to Google, having “Home” explain what the Whopper Burger is. Outsourcing 2.0.

Of course Google quickly fixed this “problem”, as they clearly don’t want to give away free advertising to Burger King – and of course they don’t want third parties to exploit their voice activation features as a security-issue like this might scare off potential customers.

According to the NY Times, “more Americans use smart speakers at home, a trend led by Amazon’s Echo device and its virtual assistant, Alexa“. This isn’t such a thing in Germany, yet, but it will probably be in a few years. Considering how much we’re already exposing ourselves to things like this, it’s a scary trend that we’re giving away more and more of our privacy and self-determination in exchange for convenience and a supposedly higher living standard.

Having Burger King kind of “exploiting” Google Home’s features and thus the permissions you as the owner granted it should kick-start our imagination for what’s possible with devices like this, which become an essential part of our days as they know our habits, automate our chores and feed us with the things we like (or the things we’re meant to like).

Google, with its already alarmingly relevant profile of our lives and personalities, is basically with you 24/7 now and thus able to deliver you the right content at the right time in the right place (at home, at work, en route) – which is how they can influence our perception, opinions, purchase behaviour and habits. And, even better, they will share this ability to everyone who is willing to pay for it.

Be careful when considering to bring devices like these to your home. It’s convenient, it’s fancy and modern – but it always comes at a cost: Giving up privacy and security for a little less effort, gradually exposing more of your lives to machines and analysts, being influenced by others.