Stories of smart speaker debacles are doing the rounds more than ever. A new book by Matthew Hennessey, Zero Hour for Gen X: How the Last Adult Generation Can Save America from Millennials, includes a chapter on the Internet of Things, recently adapted for the WSJ:

Megan and Michael Neitzel scratched their heads in confusion when a giant box containing a dollhouse and 4 pounds of sugar cookies was delivered to their Dallas home. The day before, their 6-year-old daughter, Brooke, had been chatting innocently with the family’s new Amazon Echo. The little girl at first denied placing the $162 order, but eventually fessed up.

A Washington state couple grew concerned a few years ago when their 3-year-old son developed anxiety about going to bed … He told them that someone was talking to him at night. “Wake up, little boy,” he claimed he’d heard a voice in the darkness say. “Daddy’s looking for you.” The couple thought he was having nightmares, until they went to check on him one night and heard the voice too. “Look, someone’s coming,” it said as they entered their son’s room. A hacker had taken control of their baby monitor.

From mild inconvenience to real physical danger, the IoT is saddled with a range of privacy and security risks. Despite the screw-ups, it seems many consumers continue to trade personal information for services which are undeniably highly convenient, when they function optimally.

The home of the very near future will be an always-listening, always-watching surveillance system designed to anticipate and fulfill your needs. Cars and offices will operate in much the same way … They’ll all be sending reports back to Palo Alto or Mountain View or Cupertino, presuming they aren’t already.

Consumers may sour on the idea if it becomes clear that Amazon’s Echo is costing them far more than the sticker price. Amazon wants more impulse purchases, faster rates of consumption, new lines of regular consumption, and shifts to more profitable products (e.g., coffee pods instead of bags of coffee). The more Amazon knows about consumers, the more money it expects to extract from them.

The book and article also quote the IoT Privacy Forum’s latest major report, Clearly Opaque:

“The Internet of Things heralds a qualitative shift in how privacy is managed, both by people and by the organizations that create, sell, and operate internet-connected devices,” write Gilad Rosner and Erin Kenneally in a recent report for the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. As smart devices like the Echo become the norm, consumers are “losing the ability to monitor and control the data collected about them, and they often have little awareness of what is done with their data downstream.”

Public opinion on IoT privacy doesn’t seem to be shifting, and the general reputation of Apple, Google and Amazon remains high. These tech giants are leading the smart speaker revolution, and Facebook has a device waiting for release. This technology looks set to migrate to Smart TVs and many other devices, meaning that one day it might be impossible to find a new fridge that doesn’t have a microphone and speaker (or a camera to monitor the contents).

The grand bargain between Silicon Valley and the average person has always been this: You give up your privacy, and we’ll give you cool stuff. “If today’s social media has taught us anything about ourselves as a species, it is that the human impulse to share overwhelms the human impulse for privacy,” writes the technology guru Kevin Kelly in his 2016 book, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future … “I would sum it up like this: Vanity trumps privacy.”