On the topic of curiosity and wondering, I read this post from the MSN network that Alfred Thompson shared yesterday.

I asked Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant if they’re spying on me — here’s what they said

It should come as no surprise that they all denied spying.  I mean, seriously, if you were, would you admit it?

Missing from this list of digital assistants was Cortana.  Do I smell a cover up here?

Off I went to test this theory.

“Cortana, are you spying on me?”

Drum roll…..


Well, there went the scoop of the century.  None of the devices admitted guilt.

Now, any parent who has more than one child or any classroom teacher with stick-to-it-ive-ness knows that you don’t stop there.  If you apply enough pressure and are persistent, eventually someone will rat out one of the others.

So, I started with Siri – only because I happened to be using my MacBook Pro at the time.

“Is Google Assistant spying on me?”

I found it interesting that Siri did what we all do when we don’t know the answer – it searches for it.  It wasn’t very helpful except to note that the same article was published by different sources.


I expected the same results for Cortana but was a tad surprised at the answer!

“Is Cortana spying on me?”


Now, a little more information or detail would have been helpful.  At least, I should get two points for asking an interesting question.  Maybe Siri is going somewhere to think this through?

It was raining so I went through a number of different combinations asking the assistants to squeal on each other.  As noted in the original article, the Google assistant would only talk about itself and then send me to the web when I asked about the others.  Ditto for Cortana only the destination was Bing.

When you think about it though, perhaps the word “spying” is a tad harsh.  Its interpretation is in the ears of whoever wants to do an interpretation.



n. pl. spies (spīz)

1. One who secretly collects information concerning the enemies of a government or group.
2. One who secretly collects information for a business about one or more of its competitors.
3. One who secretly keeps watch on another or others.
v. spied (spīd), spy·ing, spies (spīz)
1. To watch or observe secretly: was sent to spy out the enemy camp.
2. To discover by close observation: [They] are continually prowling about on all three decks, eager to spy out iniquities” (Herman Melville).
3. To catch sight of; see: spied the ship on the horizon.

spying. (n.d.) Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014. (1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014). Retrieved May 15 2018 from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/spying

What if I changed the wording a bit, Siri?


I’ll take that as a yes.

When I asked Cortana, I was told that I was

Coming in loud and clear

And Google Assistant was a little more conversational…


So, what have I learned today:

  • Nobody confesses to spying
  • Nobody wants to rat the other out for spying
  • They’re all listening
  • When blogging at this desk, I’m no further than a metre from three digital assistants
  • I need to learn how to do a screen capture for Windows 10 on a tablet
  • It feels wrong to apply a gender to a digital assistant so I went through and made sure that I used “it” instead

Since this is a Wednesday, I’ll be going live on voicEd Radio in a few hours, what does Siri know about voicEd Radio?

Sorry, Stephen.

Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is created by me at the keyboard or as a result of an aggregator of my daily reading under the title OTR Links. On Fridays, look for my signature post "This Week in Ontario Edublogs" where I try to share some great writing from Ontario Educators. The other regular post appears Sunday mornings as I try to start a conversation about things that have gone missing from our daily lives.

6 thoughts on “Spying

  1. This comment is probably a little off topic, but instead of going back and asking more questions in the rain (though I do love questions), you should come and join us out in the forest. It was perfect Worm Weather yesterday. I bet even Siri can appreciate worm investigations. 🙂 I wonder if Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana would agree with me about the “worm weather.” 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was pretty wormy around here too, Aviva. You know the old saying about never being more than 6 feet from a spider; I wonder what the distance is from worms?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If you ask our kids, you can never be too close to a worm. 🙂 As for a spider, the farther away, the better!



  4. It’s an interesting question that you’ve posed about spying. I went off on a bit of a tangent. It got me to thinking that we are often worried about who is listening to us, and at the same time, just wanting to be heard.

    And I loved the way you ended the post. Making me think and then giving me a chuckle at the end. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, this was an interesting one. We’re always intrigued by what cross-pollination happens in our house – if one person is doing something on their computer, why do ads or information about it show up on my laptop (even through I’m not interested at all). I also really liked the ratting out theory!

    As for worms – yesterday was a brilliant worm day, and every time I did into my garden of late, and see a nice, big, juicy worm, I think “Oh, Aviva’s class would love that!”

    Liked by 1 person

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