New Soderbergh thriller “Kimi”: Your smart speaker knows what you did
Steven Soderbergh presents a tense sci-fi thriller about shady corporations and nosy smart speakers. What can you expect in Kimi?
Star director Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen with a mysterious sci-fi thriller. In Kimi, a curious voice AI “accidentally” records a murder, but a shady corporation wants to cover up the crime. How realistic is such a scenario?
Kimi: This voice AI knows too much
Angela Childs (played by Zoë Kravitz) suffers from agoraphobia. Crowds and crowds trigger a panic fear in her, which is why she hardly ever leaves her apartment. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to. As a technical employee of a large corporation, she evaluates recordings made by the voice assistant Kimi from her home.
Similar to Alexa or Siri, Kimi sits in smart speakers that are controlled by voice commands. Unlike her real-life counterparts, however, Kimi simply records everything. One day, while analyzing a stream, Angela thinks she hears a violent crime.
When she tries to report the incident to her superiors, she encounters incredulity and bureaucracy. The corporation seems to care more about its own image than solving a crime. Angela comes under pressure and is persecuted. The young woman finally takes matters into her own hands, but to do so she must face her fears. At a time when the city is flooded with protesters, of all things.
The fear of nosy voice assistants is real
Steven Soderbergh draws on real-life skepticism about voice assistants for his sci-fi thriller Kimi. Smart speakers in particular, such as Amazon’s Echo 4 or Google Nest Audio, are repeatedly suspected of listening in more than they should.
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Manufacturers keep explaining these recordings are needed to optimize the artificial intelligence of voice assistants and keep coming up with new privacy options to increase trust in the products. And this seems to be slowly bearing fruit: A study on voice assistance shows that Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri are being used more and more in Germany, the European stronghold of data protection.
The question of the responsibility of companies in the event of suspicion has also arisen several times in reality. Both Apple and Amazon have been confronted with official investigations in the past and had to decide whether to hand over sensitive data of their users in order to possibly solve crimes.
You’ll find out how the fictional corporations decide in Steven Soderbergh’s reality-based sci-fi story soon: Kimi is scheduled to be released on HBO Max on February 10, 2022.