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A Nevada Amazon warehouse. Photo by Macduff Everton/Getty
Oct 31, 2017

The Risk of Being An Early Adopter

Why I’m staying away from Amazon’s latest technology for now.

I get it. You love technology innovation. You want the latest and greatest gadgets, the ones that will help you be better, faster, smarter and more impactful in your personal and professional lives. I get it because I am the same way.

But sometimes, being an early adopter has its drawbacks. Sometimes, you need to take a step back and consider the risks with early adoption.

Sometimes being an early adopter of technology means that:

  • You will deal with bugs or glitches in a new product or an evolving product. Apps crashing on Apple iOS 11, anyone?
  • You will deal with inconveniences that, had you waited, would have been worked out. Tesla early adopters probably should have gotten the larger Tesla Model S battery (instead of the smaller batteries they no longer offer as an option).
  • You will have consequences related to privacy implications. Remember those off-the-shelf baby monitors that picked up your neighbors’ conversations? What about the Amazon Echo Spot, Show or Look that are pretty much always watching what is happening in your bedroom or office?
  • You will be victim to the technology obsolescence cycle. Congrats on the Apple iPhone 8 Plus. Maybe you should have waited a few months for the iPhone X.

Sometimes being an early adopter of a technology-enabled service means that you don’t think twice about usage implications, say to outweigh apparent convenience over safety consideration, like who is picking you up and where they are taking you. Maybe an Uber or Lyft is not the best option.

If you understand these risks and are choosing to be an early adopter, then have fun (and be mindful)!

But if the risks of being an early adopter make you cringe, here is a new one for you to consider, an innovation that blends technology and service. Would you let strangers enter your home (when you are not there) and place items in your refrigerator or packages in a room of your choosing? I’m speaking of the new Amazon Key service that is starting to roll out.

Amazon describes it as a solution for not being at home when you need to let in trusted people—family, friends, pet sitters and house cleaners—or get packages delivered inside your home by a company’s employee (you know, a stranger). A cloud-cam connected indoor security camera paired with a smart lock supposedly solves the problem of leaving a key under the mat. But are there other implications?

Sure, the employees are screened by their employer (which is most likely a third-party vendor), but what does that really mean? It doesn’t prevent future adverse events from impacting you and your family.

Unfortunately, there are too many examples of trusted employees or contractors doing the wrong thing and hurting others. Take the accusations of sexual assault by Uber and Lyft drivers (“Report: Former Lyft driver accused of raping Zionsville woman” and “Uber driver is accused in rape, kidnapping of customer,” to name a couple incidents). Or what about the law enforcement officer who is accused of entering a home and stealing from a dying man (Video shows Florida deputy accused of stealing from dying man)? These are supposedly trusted employees.

I, for one, am sitting out as an early adopter of Amazon Key. At this point, the risks are too many for me to accept.

How about you?

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