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The secret environmental cost hiding inside your smart home device

Illustration by Nico H. Brausch for The Verge

Vijay Janapa Reddi runs a lab at Harvard University where he and his team attempt to solve some of the computer world’s greatest challenges. As a specialist in artificial intelligence systems, the technology he studies even follows him home, where his two daughters love to talk to their Amazon Alexa.

“They put a person inside that black box,” Janapa Reddi likes to joke with his four-year-old.

Janapa Reddi may be teasing when he tells his daughter a person is squeezed into their machine, but isn’t that where we’re headed? Smart home devices may never host a miniature human being inside of them — this isn’t that one episode of Black Mirror — but as the AI ecosystem evolves, voice assistants will quickly begin to feel hyperrealistic….

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