Culture

What Happens in Vegas, Stays in the Cloud: Wynn to Place an Amazon Echo in Every Room

(David Parry/PA Wire URN:28637197)

If you are looking for something to give your favorite paranoiac this holiday season, this bit of news should do:

The Wynn Las Vegas hotel is adding an Amazon Echo to every one of its 4,748 rooms. A first for a hotel to do and a great way to market both the hotel and the Echo device.

However, it also means, should you stay there, you’ll have a built-in surveillance device listening in on all your conversations whenever you are in the room. Call me crazy but there might be a few guests who don’t want Amazon listening in on their wild Vegas weekend.

The irony is sweet, given Wynn Resorts Steve Wynn’s press statement on why he chose to add an Echo to every room:
“If I have ever seen anything in my 49 years of developing resorts that has made our job of delivering a perfect experience to our guests easier and help us get to another level, it is Alexa. The ability to talk to your room is effortlessly convenient,” Wynn stated.

But with all that chatter comes Alexa’s ability to upload what you are saying to the cloud. Echo has a listening component that is activated simply by speaking out loud, making it the perfect spy device — not only for Amazon marketing purposes but also for hackers and the government to get information about you without your permission.

Sure, there are any number of little ways they could be paying attention in the room already—I’ve never quite trusted the “sprinklers”—but this is rather bold. It’s also a strange move when the entire city’s tourism marketing is based on your antics there remaining secret.

One can never discount the premium we Americans place on convenience, however, and the ability to order the Echo to do a few things may outweigh the privacy worries for many. Personally, until the Echo can make a decent Bloody Mary immediately after it wakes me up, I’m not interested.

Something that will heighten security concerns is that this is happening at a casino property. Casinos already have a strong surveillance game in place. Forget hackers and the government, there are probably dozens of people working for the casino at any given time who can hack their way into your drunken antics as you return to your room at 6 a.m. after a profitable night.

I’m one of those people who is at once fascinated by all new technology and completely freaked out that each advance is just a new way for the NSA to keep up to date with my activities. Usually, the curiosity with the tech wins out. I’m probably going to get an Echo for my home soon. That being said, my home life and my Vegas life are different. Very different.

I’m gonna need that Bloody Mary first.