Smart personal assistant with an emphasis on viceral privacy notices
eGregor is a research project by Christine Geeng about better aligning common mental models for smart personal assistants (SPA) with the reality of how they function. Geeng seeks to use imagery drawn from the Cthulhu Mythos, wherein humanity encounters grotesque beings so complex and vast that they are utterly incomprehensible, to provide users with a more complete understanding of how their SPA actually works. SPAs are household assistants that have functions such as setting timers, reminders, making phone calls, all based on voice commands from the user. Popular models include Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The legal documents describing the use and storage of user’s data for these devices are often hard to access and even harder to understand. As a result, the mental model of the user as to how the SPA functions is often inaccurate. eGregor attempts to remedy this problem by styling itself as an unknowable horror both in appearance and usage.
eGregor is a work of research that intends to draw the parallels between how SPAs function and the unknowable horrors of Lovecraftian fiction. It makes it clear that even by speaking to it, the user is relinquishing some of their privacy, namely their voice, to eGregor, that this data will be seen by an unknown amount of people, and that it likely cannot be deleted from eGregor. Additionally, the purposefully obscure nature of privacy policies, which are usually rich with legal jargon and can be hard to even access for the average user, is contrasted with occult chants. eGregor is a clever work of research and art that uses pop culture to better align the user’s mental model of how it functions with the reality of the device.