We were sitting around the dinner table when my wife got a notice on her new smartphone. It was apparently from some nice robot at Google who was just on idle with nothing better to do and so it assembled a collection of photographs from a trip she took four years ago with her sister to Michigan and made an artistic collage.

To her it was as if some friend came to the door and brought a photo album so that we could sit around and look back at the time spent traveling. For me it was more like a stalker/thief coming back into your life to taunt you with a collection of photos that were stolen when your house was ransacked years ago.

This was a major creep-out. I was horrified. My wife was delighted. Then I became more horrified that she was delighted. The dinner was really nice up until the part where Google came a knocking.

The only flaw my wife has is that she is not suspicious like I am of every little detail of modern-day living. She is easygoing, accepting, trusting and loving which can be very annoying and a source of friction under the right circumstances which too often may be defined as living with me.

Obviously delighted with this intrusion and violation of her private past, my wife immediately started forwarding the photos to her sister so that they could reminisce thanks to the brazen stalker/thief from The Cloud. I stood aghast.

It would be different if we had a personal slave-robot working for us and it decided to surprise us with a collage of photos from the past. But I don’t yet have a butler robot that I alone control. And, it’s looking like any household robot that comes down the pike will be web-enabled which should leave us wondering who is the robot’s real boss.



To further amplify my horror into the fringes of the Twilight Zone, the collection of old photos she received I personally and “permanently” deleted from my wife’s phone weeks ago. I copied all the photos onto a personal hard drive for safe keeping and deleted all the photos on the phone. This was from her old phone so when we started using our new phones there were no photos whatsoever in the memory. Until the other night, when photos appeared that were made years before our new phones were even manufactured. Creeeepy.…

This was just the beginning. After 40 years of carefully cataloging my photos and knowing exactly where to find them, I find it particularly disturbing to discover my recently created images made with my all-too-smart-phone in places I didn’t expect them. An album of my recent photos from a trip to a Florida trade show was presented to me for what purpose, my amusement? Or could they have been a gentle reminder that extortion is a real possibility? I would hate to be someone in the position of power and receive a collage of my time spent at for example, a Moscow brothel.

Next, a collection of faces garnered from my cell phone photos came up with the request to identify which face was mine and who these other people were whom I photographed. Aside from the fact that an image of my face is published every week with this column, this is really none of anybody’s business. I can hardly imagine the audacity it takes to make that request.

Sure I can hold off on giving out the identities of the people I have photographed but what about my sister-in-law? I’m sure she’s happily identifying me on her smartphone just to help out the poor facial recognition artificial intelligence robots that are struggling to identify and catalog all the people on the planet.

Younger people I’ve talked to wonder why it’s important to retain some degree of anonymity. Well, it’s hard to grasp the benefits of privacy — until some power that has people with guns at its command suddenly turns against you or your religion, ethnicity, profession or level of education. Like that’s never happened before.

I really don’t want to go back to using a film camera but a separate camera with all of its communication capabilities turned off seems to be the way to control my photos, unless my wife gets access to them when, with a loving smile and a trusting air of laissez faire, all hope is lost.