A Robot Vacuum Recorded A Woman In Her Bathroom, And The Screenshots Ended Up On Social Media
Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan

A Robot Vacuum Recorded A Woman In Her Bathroom, And The Screenshots Ended Up On Social Media

If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not your information is safe while using smart technology, listen up.

According to MIT Technology Review, a Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet and somehow the screenshots ended up on social media.

The Photos

During the fall of 2020, a group of Venezuelan workers posted a series of images online via a closed social media group.

MIT Technology Review was able to get a hold of those photos, 15 screenshots to be exact. The private photos ranged from household scenes that showcase various rooms from homes across the world to one intimate shot in question that included a young woman as she sat in the comfort of her bathroom.

While one would think that the photos were captured by a person, they were not. Instead, it was iRobot’s Roomba J7 series robot vacuum.

From there, they were sent to Scale AI — a startup responsible for contracting workers across the globe to “label audio, photo, and video data used to train artificial intelligence.”

How Did They End Up On The Internet

In a report, it was revealed that all of the images captured by its Roombas came from “special development robots with hardware and software modifications that are not and never present on iRobot consumer products for purchase.”

Furthermore, in the statement from the company, it was announced that the devices with the functionality to capture the images were only distributed to “paid collectors and employees” who were aware that data was being sent back to the company for training purposes.

Per iRobot, the devices were also labeled with a bright green sticker with the words, “video recording in progress.”

 

As far as the images that many argue should have never made their way to the internet, the company says that it was solely up to the paid data collectors to “remove anything they deem sensitive from any space the robot operates in, including children.”

Why This Is Harmful

While the evolution of technology isn’t always a bad thing, these photos are an example of how it can pose a serious threat.

It’s a reminder that consumers often give consent to having their data monitored when using devices that range from iPhones to Alexa and beyond.

While the company has an explanation, Roomba’s example is just one of many as to how our gadgets and gizmos can become more and more evasive over time.